Sold-out Tom Cochrane show sets tone for grand opening of casino

What: Tom Cochrane with Red Rider
Where: Elements Casino, 1708 Island Hwy.
When: Saturday, May 5, 8 p.m.
Tickets: Sold out
Information: 250-391-0311

To celebrate an expansion that more than doubled the size of the former View Royal Casino, a big party was necessary. And a big party is what the new Elements Casino Victoria has on tap on Saturday during its grand-opening event.

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“We’re excited to become something new and show people the difference from what it was to what it is,” said Chris Lynn, executive director of Vancouver Island casino operations for the Great Canadian Gaming Corp. “It was time to progress.”

Tom Cochrane and his band, Red Rider, will open the casino’s new 568-seat Platinum Room with a sold-out performance that Lynn hopes will put the casino on the map, in terms of its live music offerings. “We want people to know that this is a viable entertainment option when people are making their choice of where to go for the evening.”

Elements Casino is pulling out all the entertainment stops on Saturday, including circus artists performing on the gaming floor. Once the Cochrane show is completed, local soul-funk band the Soul Shakers will perform at 10 p.m. in the Well Public House. The casino’s casual-dining venue will present live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. “There’s really something for everyone going on,” Lynn said.

The booking of Cochrane — whose last local performance in 2017 drew 2,356 fans to the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre — was a coup for the West Shore casino. Until recently, Cochrane held the record for the largest paid concert in Greater Victoria history, with more than 10,000 fans attending his performance at Western Speedway. That record was broken by the Tragically Hip, who drew 12,500 fans to their 2012 performance at Rock the Shores, just across the street from what is now Elements Casino.

The award-winning Life is a Highway hitmaker has been active of late, playing in support of Saskatchewan’s Humboldt Broncos hockey team, which lost 16 players and personnel in a tragic bus crash. Cochrane has released a re-recorded version of his song Big League — about a father who loses his hockey-playing son in a truck crash — and has donated the sales proceeds to those affected by the Humboldt crash.

Elements Casino’s Platinum Room has events booked for the next two months, including tribute show Buddy, Roy, & Elvis (May 11-12), comedian Ivan Decker (May 18), and tribute acts ABRA Cadabra (June 19) and The Fab Fourever (June 8-9). Management will reassess the room at that point, and either increase or decrease its offerings accordingly. “If it’s four shows a month, then that’s what it is,” Lynn said. “If it’s 10, that’s great, too. We’ll let the public decide who they want to come out and support.”

Lynn said the multi-purpose Platinum Room will also be available free of charge to local charitable groups, up to 50 times annually.

An expanded entertainment palette is just one part of the multimillion-dollar redevelopment that has taken place over the past 14 months. The casino was purpose-built in 2001, and in need of several new additions, Lynn said. The casino added more than 200 slot machines (to bring its total to 800) and now offers 26 table games; live poker has been added. In addition to the Well Public House, food offerings at Elements Casino now include a buffet, Asian cuisine restaurant and burger restaurant.

“I think everybody who’s been here before will notice a significant and impactful change, as far as size, look, scope and feel. Everything will certainly look different than it did.”

At 70,000 square feet, with the capability of hosting up to 2,500 patrons at any given time, the casino is hoping to make an immediate impact in the entertainment and food-and-beverages sectors, according to Lynn.

“The Greater Victoria region and the West Shore have all grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and we’re responding to that. Rather than just the gaming experience, which is what we were offering before, we want to offer an entertainment experience now.”

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