Club Regent Casino, one of two government owned casinos in Winnipeg, is building a new concert hall that will be the largest concert-specific facility in Manitoba. The concert hall is proving divisive in the community as some businesses recognize the merit behind the facility, while others believe the venue will end their operations.
Club Regent Casino was opened in 1993 and along with the McPhillips Street Casino, is owned and operated by the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Association. The casino’s many slots, table games, and poker rooms are very popular in Winnipeg, but the Manitoba government is attempting to rebrand casinos as entertainment halls with non-gambling activities.
The provincial strategy involves construction of a new concert hall dubbed ‘The Event Centre,’ which will be a 1,400 seat facility by the time the venue is complete. The Event Centre will primarily be used for concerts which in turn are expected to drive attendees to the casino, but will also be used for banquets, trade shows, weddings, and other festivities when necessary. Government officials have yet to present a total cost for the construction, though insiders hint the amount could exceed $15 million.
Hype surrounding The Event Centre is very popular within the community, but there are also opponents to the casino’s new concert hall. Owners of Winnipeg’s oldest theatres and entertainment centres, which hosted many concerts in the past, are worried that they will lose their business to Club Regent. Managers of the McPhillips Street Casino concert arena are also worried about what The Event Centre will mean for their businesses.
Karen Hiebert, a spokesperson for Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, all but confirmed that Club Regent Casino will receive preferential treatment for big concert events.
“Ultimately, our headliner shows will be primarily at Club Regent.”
However many businesses, including True North Sports & Entertainment which owns the NHL Winnipeg Jets, believe that a new casino concert hall is in the best interests of the city and all of Manitoba.