Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 | 4:34 p.m.
One of the city’s best live-music venues is going dark.
Ovation at Green Valley Ranch Resort, home to performances by such a cavalcade of artists as Berlin, Ted Nugent, Yellow Brick Road, Michael Grimm and the Lon Bronson All-Star Band, will be closed by the end of the month.
Station Casinos Vice President of Entertainment Judy Alberti said today that the final show at the venue will be Nov. 24, an appearance by popular country artist and regular Ovation headliner Sam Riddle.
In a conference call today with Station Casinos Vice President of Communications Lori Nelson, Alberti said the plan was for Green Valley Ranch Resort to be “more aggressive” in booking acts into the hotel’s Grand Events Center, Quinn’s Irish Pub, Hank’s Fine Steaks e& Martinis and the Backyard outdoor pool venue.
At the same time, the resort could make more sensible use of a giant room abutting the casino. That would be Ovation.
“This was decided very recently,” Alberti said when asked for a time frame leading to the decision to shut down Ovation, which had been rumored for at least a month. “We went forward and were very committed to it as an entertainment venue, but we started looking at alternate uses for some great real estate off the casino floor.”
Neither Alberti nor Nelson specified how the room would be used or when it would reopen. It would likely be gaming-related (many observers with knowledge of the venue have speculated that it is being pulled apart to build a bingo room) or possibly a restaurant or some form of a new nightlife venue that can please customers and -- most important -- maximize revenue.
Though it brought in high-caliber acts and was universally appreciated as a place to watch shows, Ovation was a relatively expensive proposition. Shows like Riddle’s and Bronson with his 16-piece show band were free. Grimm’s tickets have been $5, and he has often hired a half-dozen backing musicians. Everyone needs to be paid, and if the casino is not picking up revenue elsewhere in the form of bar tabs, dining or gaming, it makes little financial sense to keep a club that is not making money open.
As a wise man recently said, it’s arithmetic.
It is highly unlikely the Ovation space would ever be turned into a true nightclub, but it is certain its days as a permanent live venue will end when Riddle plays his last song. Alberti says there are no plans to keep the room intact for one-off shows, though she intends to focus on Stations’ other major live venues, such as Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Resort, Chrome at Santa Fe Station, and the venerable Railhead at Boulder Station to absorb many of the headlining acts showcased at Ovation.
Alberti added that there are no plans to tinker with any of those live-entertainment venues.
Ovation opened with the hotel’s expansion in May 2007. It didn’t take long for it to develop a strong reputation among Las Vegas artists and live-music fans.
“Ovation has been, in my opinion, the best 500-or-so venue in town,” said Bronson, who has performed in a host of lounges and showrooms on and off the Strip for more than 20 years. “Nothing else had the quality of sound, the lighting is phenomenal, and you had a three-camera live video shoot during the performance.”
In September, Bronson’s band was booked for regular Friday-night performances, and it seemed Stations was redoubling its efforts to keep Ovation intact as a live venue. That is no longer the case, obviously, despite the chagrin of the artists who have performed there.
“We were really able to put out a product that was amazing,” Bronson said. “I never even asked why they were closing it. It’s a de facto thing. That’s what they have to do, I guess. But I’m confident we’ll find a place to play.”