The Venue—a 2,500-seat state-of-the-art entertainment center—opened just outside of Chicago on August 8, 2008 at the Horseshoe Casino, with Bette Midler, fresh from a Las Vegas run, as the first in a series of headliners programmed at by AEG Entertainment. Located along the shore of Lake Michigan in Hammond, IN, the Horsehoe Casino is actually a 350,000-square-foot building built on a barge on the water.

“The Venue is the largest showroom or theatre on a ship,” notes Marco Wingender, of Scéno Plus, the Montreal-based design company and theatre consultants who worked on the facility. “There are motors and a ship captain. It meets all aspects of naval code but it not really intended to move.”

Audio-visual equipment includes three giant HD screens that combine lighting with multi-layered video projections to create a wide range of interactive special effects. To ensure the highest quality in sound, acoustics are supported by a highly efficient and versatile audio system able to substitute or complete the most demanding touring technical requirements. One of the challenges was sound isolation. “The idea was to isolate The Venue from the casino and exterior noise,” explains Wingender. “The room is like a cocoon, and the walls and ceiling are treated with absorption materials. “The room is used for amplified sound and needs to absorb as quickly as possible.”

Equipped with high comfort telescopic seating, the 90,000-square-foot facility can undergo complete transformation in less than two hours to accommodate anything from intimate performances to large-scale entertainment productions. The Venue’s general admission floor can fit up to 2,400 people, for a total room capacity of more than 3,300. In banquet mode, The Venue can welcome up to 150 tables and 1,500 seats, all easily storable in-house.

A three-level lobby, featuring walls composed of LED pixels and immersive lighting, has been designed to greet guests with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Additionally, a 3,500-square-foot area hosts six VIP suites, with three rows of seats and a full-service salon featuring couches and plasma televisions.

One curious fact: the loading dock is on the fourth floor of the building: “There is a elevator that picks up the material from the trucks at the parking facility's first floor to The Venue's floor. Once brought up to that level, the material can be easily carried to The Venue's loading dock through the bridge connecting both buildings,” says Wingender.

Selected Gear:

3 Digital Projection Lightning 12,000 lumen projectors
3 Draper Paragon 18’ x 24’ roll-up screens
1 Draper Cinefold 18’ x 24’ rear-projection screen
Tomcat truss

Yamaha PM5DRH V2 console
Yamaha DME24n DSP Processor
Meyer Sound loudspeakers (Mica, 700-HP sub-woofer, MSL-4, UPA-1P, UMP-1P)
Shure (Beta91, SM58, SM58S, BETA98/S
Neuman (KM-184)
Sennheiser (e602, e609, MKH60, MKH40)
Clear-Com Communications System

MA Lighting grandMA control
ETC SR48AF+ dimmers
ETC Source Four ellipsoidals
Robert Juliat 700 series profiles
Robert Juliat Ivanhoe followspot
High End Systems Studio Command wash lights
High End Studio Beams
Vari-Lite VL3000 automated luminaries