MCKINNEY LIVE: A new amphitheater in McKinney, Texas, is slated to open in 2026. (Courtesy Venue) 

Notes Live, Inc. plans to build their biggest venue to date in McKinney, Texas: the 20,000-cap, $220 million Sunset Amphitheater.

“At the end of the day, I didn’t set out to build cheap venues,” said JW Roth, founder and CEO of Colorado Springs-based Notes Live. “I set out to build the best, the most premium venues that will deliver the best fan experience possible.”

Slated to open in 2026, the venue is a joint effort by the city, the McKinney Economic Development Corporation, the McKinney Community Development Corporation and Notes Live, which aims to construct amphitheaters in markets with a burgeoning population and a dearth of high-quality entertainment venues.

“Our venues, and I say this all the time, are really a tide that lifts all boats,” Roth said. “Going through the list of who benefits from us doing this, it’s the restaurants, it’s the hotels and it’s the gas stations and you walk into that community and you share your vision and they either get it or they don’t. In the case of McKinney not only did they get it; they got it on steroids.”

The open-air venue is slated for construction northeast of U.S. 75 and S.H. 121. It is modeled after Notes Live’s music center in Colorado Springs, but capacity is more than double. The project will be built on 46 aces and feature at least 250 luxury fire pit suites, reserved seating in the mid and lower bowl, a landscaped grass berm and custom owners club suites. Roth is installing hydro chill technology on the lawn to manage turf temperatures.

“It’s about comfortability,” Roth said. “It’s what drives the experience. If you are sitting on the lawn or a fire pit suite, you are going to have an elevated experience compared to what you would have anywhere else.”

The McKinney amphitheater will have four different sizes of fire pits seating from four to 10 patrons each. Pre-sale begins soon and prices will range from $295,000 to $875,000 for the larger corporate suites. Roth said more than $5 million in sales are already reserved by people who have heard about the project, many own similar suites in other markets.

“I was always nervous, to be honest, will people gravitate toward a premium experience like this or will they treat it like any other potential ticket to a venue,” Roth elaborated. “And we were right. They embrace it. They come in droves.”

McKinney was attractive for its active downtown, which in June hosts two days of Texas Music Revolution featuring more than 90 country performers on 20 different stages, and the city’s sports franchises, including the 12,000-seat McKinney Independent School District football stadium and the annual CJ Cup Byron Nelson PGA tournament.

“This world-class music venue is a game-changer for our entertainment offerings in McKinney and will be a boon for our economic growth and tourism sector. With a state-of-the-art venue of this size, we can draw some of the largest musical acts to the city and attract fans from across Texas and the surrounding states,” said George Fuller, mayor of McKinney in a statement. The city is located about 30 miles north of Dallas.

“Sites are sites and there are good sites and bad sites, and there are sites that are almost as good, but at the end of the day it’s the vision of the leadership of the municipality that makes a deal work,” Roth said. “McKinney has both, but what really drove me is that I built a relationship with Mayor Fuller. He is a music guy. He’s an entertainment guy. So, we were aligned on our vision and aligned on our philosophy of economic development and what it could bring to that community.”

The Sunset Amphitheater development is projected to support more than 1,300 direct and indirect jobs with more than $3 billion dollars of regional and local economic activity in its first 10 years of operation. The Sunset’s construction is projected to begin in late 2024, with the aim of unveiling the venue in 2026.

In the last 12 months, Notes Live opened a new venue in Gainesville, Georgia, serving an entertainment void in the northern Atlanta market, and announced new music and entertainment complexes in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which is south of Nashville, Broken Arrow and Oklahoma City in Oklahoma. The announced projects are in various stages of development from entitlement and city approvals to installing utilities.

After breaking ground in March 2023, the 8,000-seat, open-air Sunset Amphitheater in Colorado Springs is set for a grand opening on Aug. 9 with hometown favorites Ryan Tedder and OneRepublic. Tickets for the show sold out in four minutes and two more sold-out dates were added. Upcoming events include The Beach Boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and Dierks Bentley.

“We couldn’t be more excited,” Roth said. “We built it first and we learned a lot. If we spent any tuition, it was on Colorado Springs because we have constantly been improving and changing it and modifying because we want it to be the best it can be.”

Sales from the 133 premium fire pits at the Colorado Springs venue ($200,000 to $500,000 each) totaled $33 million in 14 weeks, according to Roth.

“When a fan writes those kinds of checks to buy that experience and to experience music that way, it tells you something,” Roth added. “It’s encouraging to know that you aren’t the only guy who thinks that way.”