Last weekend, Las Vegas got its first look at the renovated Colosseum at Caesars Palace during two sold-out shows from four-time Grammy winner Keith Urban. He was the first artist to make use of the venue’s upgraded state-of-the-art sound system, new moving light fixtures and high-definition LED video wall, but the most noticeable difference was the addition of a general admission standing-room area on the main floor right in front of the stage, intended to create the kind of concert energy Urban usually enjoys on his current Graffiti U world tour.
That new element in this iconic venue is an extension of the fruitful partnership between Caesars Entertainment and Live Nation, which essentially began with Britney Spears’ show at Planet Hollywood across the street.
The Colosseum pioneered the modern artist residency model on the Strip with Celine Dion’s epic show in 2003, but Britney’s show connected that model with a younger, nightclub-oriented Vegas visitor in 2013. Subsequent Zappos Theater residencies from artists like Jennifer Lopez and the Backstreet Boys have further fused concert with dance party, and as Live Nation Las Vegas President Kurt Melien said last week, the next natural step was to partner with Caesars again to “bring out a legendary roster of artists to the most legendary venue in Las Vegas, if not the world—the Colosseum.”
Caesars took over management and operations of the Colosseum earlier this year—after a long-term deal with AEG Presents ran its course—and brought in Live Nation as the room’s promoter. But don’t look for a duplication of the Planet Hollywood model. The lift system that creates the standing-room GA space is a cool feature, but that addition alone would not advance the venue.
“Our focus has been and will always be exceeding our guests’ expectations as they experience the very best in live entertainment,” Jason Gastwirth, president of entertainment for Caesars Entertainment, said. “We have carefully crafted these changes to the venue while still preserving its celebrated character and prestige.”
The level of luxury at the Colosseum has always given the venue its edge, and now that its concerts and events face regular competition from Zappos Theater and Park Theater—plus larger Strip venues like MGM Grand Garden Arena and T-Mobile Arena—Caesars has doubled down on that advantage, making the 4,470-capacity theater even more comfortable. It looks, feels and sounds better than ever.
The Caesars-Live Nation goal is not merely to compete with other dynamic Vegas venues. If the Colosseum has been out in front of this horse race, it wants to win by many more lengths. “We’ve designed the new venue to attract the future of Las Vegas, the biggest stars of tomorrow, to grace the stage,” Melien said.
Tour stops from Guns N’ Roses and Madonna and new residencies from Journey and Sting are on the way, but Las Vegas should expect next-level artists from various eras and genres to sign up for duty in the coming months. That is the promise of the Colosseum.