Out came the scissors, snap went the blades, and the ribbon was cut.
With that sound, amid the applause of dozens of well wishers, construction workers, Oneida Nation officials and a slew of VIPs, the long-awaited opening of the addition to the Exit 33 entertainment complex was celebrated on July 18. On hand were Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, New York State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, Central and Northern New York Building Trades representative Pat Costello and Oneida County Tourism president Kelly Blazosky.
“As the region's premiere entertainment destination and resort, we understand expectations are high when we open something new," said Oneida Nation Representative and Nation Enterprises CEO Ray Halbritter in a statement. "Exit 33 is Turning Stone's most exciting and original creation yet, and sets a new standard of excellence in entertainment. Exit 33 ensures that Turning Stone will continue to be the first choice for entertainment in this region for years to come, and we are certain that people will travel from near and far to experience everything it has to offer."
It was the culmination of a vision sparked two decades ago with a simple bingo hall. The complex has since burgeoned into an economic mainstay for central New York State. The $25 million addition was completed speedily; the groundbreaking only took place in November 2012. Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter, who was once a union ironworker himself, praised the workers for staying on schedule and within budget.
Besides providing long-term jobs, the building project alone created about 300 jobs for local construction workers, building trades craftsmen, and suppliers, the Oneida Nation said in its statement.
A couple of days earlier on July 16, the Oneida Nation had thanked the tireless construction workers and craftsmen with an appreciation party in the new multi-venue entertainment complex that they had just built—fittingly, the first event to be held at “Exit 33.” It opens to the public on the evening of July 18.
The ribbon cutting made for a fitting prelude to the weekend’s festivities, which mark the high point of Turning Stone’s month-long 20th-anniversary celebration. (Related: Turning Stone Hosts Month-Long Celebration to Commemorate its 20th Anniversary)
The high point will be July 20–21, when Tony Bennett graces an invitation-only, black-tie gala; elaborate fireworks fill the sky, and the casino rolls out and cuts a special anniversary cake.
Among many featured acts that will launch the four new venues this weekend are the Beadle Brothers on July 18, 19 and 20 at the Tin Rooster; The Limit on the same evenings, at The Gig; Dueling Pianos on July 18 and 19 a the Turquoise Tiger, and Eden Brent on July 20, plus the burlesque show of Veronica Varlow on July 19 and 20 at midnight, the Nation said.