By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 23, 2023 at 12:35 PM

The Northern Lights Theater at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino has closed and the space will be converted into the casino's new Sportsbook venue.

The final performance in the 22-year-old, 600-seat theater was by Herman's Hermits with Peter Noone this past Friday.

Now, construction is set to begin soon on the casino's permanent new Sportsbook venue, which will take over both the theater space and the adjacent Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill space.

The new venue will have a 120-foot video screen capable of showing multiple events simultaneously. There will also be a bar and food service inside.

“This is a transformational time at Potawatomi Casino Hotel,” said Dominic Ortiz, Potawatomi Casinos and Hotels’ CEO, in a statement issued Monday. “For more than three decades, we have served as a leader in Tribal gaming.

"With the addition of sports betting, we’ll be providing our guests with even more options and welcoming new visitors to the property and the Menomonee Valley.”

Public relations manager Ryan Amundsen said that there are no immediate plans for a new theater at the Menomonee Valley entertainment complex.

"We’ll have a stage and live entertainment at the Rock & Brews restaurant when it opens," he added.

That restaurant – owned by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS – expected to debut by late summer or early fall.

Sportsbook and Rock & Brews are part of a $100 million renovation at the casino.

While the venue is under construction, there will be two temporary sports betting locations with a total of 17 kiosks open 24 hours a day.

Some of the kiosks will be found near the skywalk on the second level.

The others will be located near the site of the future venue. These kiosks will also have a full bar with eight high-definition TVs and a large LED screen showing the most important games of the day.

Both areas will have odds boards.

Guests engaged in sports betting have access to dedicated 20-minute parking spots in the adjacent structure on the other side of that skywalk.

The new Sportsbook venue is slated to open by the end of the year.

The Potawatomi venue will be the only one in the city, thanks to a compact with Gov. Tony Evers inked last year. 

It will be the third in Wisconsin, thanks to similar compacts with the Oneida Nation and the St. Croix Chippewa.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.