Big venue being made for big shows |

Big venue being made for big shows

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune
By Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily TribuneWorking on the amphitheater concert stage, iron workers Jeff Cowdin, left, and Jimmy Cox bolt together support columns Wednesday.

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe is kicking into high gear for this weekend’s planned outdoor concerts staged at Harveys Resort Casino.

Crews are erecting a 100,000-pound stage with about 15,000 pounds in lighting in an area spanning 405-by-236 feet in the casino’s back parking lot. The outdoor amphitheater seats 5,000 people.

Country singer Tim McGraw is scheduled to play before a sold-out crowd Friday, and blues musicians Keb Mo and Johnny Lang will grace the stage Saturday. Tickets priced at $35 and $45 are still available for the Saturday romp.

“This is going to bring a lot of attention to Lake Tahoe. Usually, you don’t have a facility of this size. By building it, Lake Tahoe will have the ability to get the big acts,” said Gil Cunningham, vice president of TBA Entertainment based in Omaha, Neb. “This is one of the better outdoor staging areas in the country.”

Cunningham, the producer of the million-dollar concert series for Harrah’s, appreciated the level of care and effort Harrah’s, as the promoter, brought forth.

Cunningham’s clan joined Reno ironworkers, a more-than-happy-to-be-outside Harrah’s crew and the production company Premiere Global on the grounds Wednesday while overseeing the progress of the staging area.

On Tuesday, two trucks brought in the stage. The next day, the bleachers were assembled. Today, the chairs, concessionaire area and dressing rooms will be set up.

When Robin Williams rolls into town Aug. 10, two 3,000-pound screens will be brought in.

Assembly work on the road commands professionals knowing the drill over an average two- to three-day period — a detail-oriented maze of wires and steel beams.

“It’s dangerous work. When using stuff that heavy, you can lose a finger without thinking about it,” Cunningham said, watching the workers guide a huge steel beam.

While producing big-act shows, there are other challenges Cunningham has learned to deal with in the entertainment industry.

Artists have requested no brown M&Ms and rare vintage wines at the catering parties.

“The nice thing about this venue is, even though it’s outside, you have a catering venue inside,” Cunningham said, referring to a nearby place for the artists to get comfortable.

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