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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mt. Pleasant, Michigan / Soaring Eagle Casino Outdoor Concert Venue

Septemer 2016, Weekday


Pre-concert experience/ticket purchase

We were going to be passing through Mt. Pleasant the night of the rescheduled Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Guess Who, and Mark Farner concert, so we decided to purchase tickets and attend the show. We purchased the least expensive general admission tickets on the Soaring Eagle Casino website, and printed them at home. The tickets were not a bad price, although I thought the service fee of $6.75 per ticket was high. Tickets were available when we arrived, and I wished we had waited to purchase them then.

GA tix purchased and printed at home
I had read several negative reviews about the concert venue beforehand. Many of the reviews were from people who had purchased more expensive reserved seats closer to the stage. One person said his reserved seats were directly in front of the General Admission Hill Seating, and he had a terrible view. Looking at the seating layout, I would not be happy either, if I had paid more than twice as much for seats directly in front of where we were on the lawn. I had read another review from someone complaining about the stench and proximity of the porta johns--I hoped that was not correct!

Arrival/entrance

We parked in the casino RV lot, which we had never done before. We knew you could do this; however, we were surprised at the number of RVs in the lot. There were more than 25 trailers and RVs on this Thursday evening; many with the slides out, and some with generators running. One family appeared to be "camping," rather than visiting the casino. They had children, their camper was unhooked, and they were gone in their truck most of the time (I would not be visiting the casino or concert with kids, anyway, although I suppose some people might). We even observed a boat in the parking lot with a ladder at the back to get on and off the boat. There was plenty of room for parking, and the parking lot was fairly level. Next time we do something like this, we will be more mindful of the lights in the parking lot. We had parked before dark, and when we returned after the concert, we realized our bathroom skylight was located pretty close to one of the overhead lights.

Over 10 RVs in this photo
We took the shuttle between the RV lot and the casino, and then walked through the casino to and from the concert grounds. There was a special events shuttle stop between the casino and hotel entrance for transportation to the concert grounds, which we did not take. It seemed like the walk from the stop at the concert grounds to the entrance was farther than walking through the casino, unless you wait for the golf cart type shuttle to take you from the shuttle bus stop to the concert entrance.The concert grounds were located directly behind the casino. Even though the concert grounds have been open since 2012, the online property map does not show the outdoor venue location.

The concert information said there was a pre-party tent open before and after the concert, and that the gates opened at 5:00 p.m. We expected the pre-party tent to be inside the concert grounds; however, it was located on the tar behind the casino, before walking up the path to the concert entrance. Canned beverages were for sale in the tent, and a band played far too loudly. We did not observe more than a couple of people inside the tent any time we walked by.

View of stage and hotel from GA entrance line
There were two entrances into the concert grounds, which were clearly marked. One for reserved seating guests, and one for general admission guests. We initially arrived around 5:30 p.m., and were told the gates would not be open until 6:00 p.m. We walked back to a bar in the casino, and then returned to the concert entrance around 6:00 p.m. Beverages can be carried from the casino bar (in plastic cups) to the concert entrance. I am not sure if beverages can be carried inside the concert grounds; ours were empty by the time the gates opened at 6:45 p.m.! Once the gates opened, we were inside very quickly. A manager even stepped up to assist with ticket taking. She tore our tickets in half because she did not have a scanner.

Hill seating and view

We sat on a blanket on the grass about half way up the hill, just before the light control tower. We could see the stage, and the sound was great. The view of the screens was even better after dark. Apparently, low chairs are also allowed, although it seems like this would not be very comfortable on the hill. We had an excellent view from our seats on the ground for most of the concert. A few people stood up here and there, which did not obstruct our view until the concert neared the end, and more people stood. It did not seem like the grounds were very full, and I imagine the view would not be as great while seated when there are more people in attendance.

View from our GA seats on the hill; photo taken when we first arrived
If you are considering reserved seats at this venue, I suggest not purchasing back row seats directly in front of the general admission area. There was a fence between the two sections, and people in the general admission area stood along the length of the fence behind the guests in seats. Since the reserved seating area is flat, I imagine the view was better for the people standing at the fence, than it was for those seated in front of them.

Once the hill grounds filled up, it was very difficult to find our location when returning from the restroom - even before dark. I made note of our location (stage view, distance up the hill, others around us), and I still had to look around each time I returned, as did my husband, and many others we observed. A couple seated near us never returned to their blanket when they walked away after dark.

Food & beverage sign near bathrooms at north end

Beverage sales

The beverage lines were not long, and several servers walked around with a cooler of beverages. The large beverage tent at the north end had a larger selection of items than the small stands and the servers. The food and beverage photo above can be enlarged by clicking on it, if you want to see pricing.

Restrooms/portable toilets

Several portable toilets were located near the entrance, and at the north end near the large beverage tent. This was a ways away from where we were seated near the center, and they did not smell foul. The toilets at the north end were very clean at the beginning of the night. The only time I had to wait was when I visited during a band break, and even then the line moved quickly. Portable toilets were also located outside the concert grounds, near the reserved seating entrance.

Misc. and overall

After our initial wait time because of the delayed gate opening, we had a great experience at this venue. We had a good view, and the sound was great. The Guess Who and Mark Farner were amazing. Lynyrd Skynyrd played so much louder, we thought the sound quality was distorted. It looked like others thought the same, as people were not swaying and dancing as much as they had been with the other two bands.

The no smoking policy was not enforced, just like at any concert. I did not observe any security personnel inside the concert. I assume there must have been some up the hill behind me, where I did not venture. I observed police and security outside the concert area.

Since we did not park in the concert lot or observe it, I cannot comment about any traffic chaos that might have occurred post-concert. I imagine many people spent the night at the hotel, rather than departing.

Let me know if you have any questions. Please share this post for others!