Stage Red amps up for first concert (and Sammy Hagar) in Fontana (2024)

Within days, in Fontana, you’ll be able to enter Stage Red.

Afterward, you will exit Stage Red. Snagglepuss, the animated cat whose signature line was “exit, stage left,” sends his regrets.

Stage Red is the reborn Fontana Theater, the 1937 Art Deco movie house that became a community theater and then a dinner theater. After closing in August 2022, the city-owned theater (8463 Sierra Ave.) is getting a complete overhaul to become a live music venue.

The official name: Stage Red — A Sammy Hagar Venue. The Fontana-raised rocker is lending his name and his corporate team’s design savvy to assist his hometown.

After a VIP preview on Thursday, Stage Red’s first concert is Saturday. Unable to wait, especially since I’ll be in the Midwest, I dropped in Monday for a tour.

Plastic sheeting covered the stairs and floors because the interior is still a construction site. A small army of contractors was at work.

Lighting and sound equipment was in place. Furniture, in plastic, was arrayed on the stage until last touches in the mezzanine and balcony are finished.

In the bar, the bar top had one item: an eight-pack of Liquid Nails, a construction adhesive, in squirt bottles. I did not ask a contractor to pour me a slug.

“Can you believe our first event is in three days? But we’ll be ready,” promised Phil Burum, the deputy city manager who is overseeing the project.

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I’d last been inside in July 2023. At that point not much had been done except interior demolition. It was nice to return and see the place almost ready.

(The original contractor was fired in April, said Burum, who called its replacement, Final Touch, “the absolute best contractor I’ve ever dealt with.”)

Construction of a 320-stall parking structure behind the theater is underway and may open by year’s end.

The first concert will be the popular tribute show called Beatles vs. Stones: A Musical Showdown. That’s Saturday, with tickets from $25 to $45.

That’s kind of a dry run for June 15, an acoustic concert by Hagar, with accompaniment by guitarist Vic Johnson. Stories will probably be told between songs.

Those tickets went on sale May 31 at 9 a.m. The intimate venue holds 330 people.

Said Burum: “It sold out in 10 minutes.”

Tickets ranged from $55 for standing room, $100 for seats in the mezzanine and $500 for the balcony, which includes a meet-and-greet. Those prices were far below Hagar’s usual prices, but he wanted to keep the prices reasonable for his local fans, Burum said.

Hagar’s first visit to his branded venue will be for his concert.

“He’s signed off on the design, he’s seen pictures, but he hasn’t seen it yet,” Burum said.

In a social media video, Hagar declared of Stage Red: “I’m proud to be part of it. I’m proud to have my name involved. And I’m proud to be from Fontana.”

The Beatles and Stones could not be reached for comment.

Redlands gab

Here was the event title at the Redlands Forum on Monday evening: “The Future of Community Journalism in the Inland Empire.” I didn’t know what it was about, but if that was the topic, it seemed like I ought to be in the audience.

I mean, what if the future of journalism doesn’t include me? Better to know now than later.

The co-speakers were Paulette Brown-Hinds, publisher of Riverside-based Black Voice News, and Dean Baquet, a former executive editor of both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times.

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Brown-Hinds announced the launch of a community engagement initiative, the Inland Empire Journalism Innovation Hub + Fund. Baquet was there to talk more generally about the “absolute crisis” in journalism, the role nonprofits and startups can play and the need to present facts in an era more interested in hot takes.

Baquet’s advice to young journalists: “You have a chance to reinvent a profession that is vital to democracy.”

From the audience, a couple of shots were taken at our fine Southern California News Group publications. But not by Baquet, who said: “The reporters care about their communities. They’re in there swingin’. They’re trying.”

And that is a fact.

The Redlands Forum, by the way, is an educational and cultural program launched in 2009 and open to the public free of charge. It’s co-sponsored by Esri, a software company based in Redlands, and the University of Redlands. I hadn’t attended before, but I liked it, the tiered seating is top-notch and what I saw of the woodsy Esri campus is lovely.

Any event where I could meet both Dean Baquet and Esri co-founder Jack Dangermond was well worth the drive.

Vacation begins

I’ll have a column on Friday, one that’s been in the works since April. After visiting my family in the Midwest, I’ll return to these pages on June 19. Let’s enjoy our time away — me from the IE, and you from me.


Pete McCloskey, the former congressman from San Mateo who died May 8 at age 96, was born in Loma Linda. How about that? A Republican who served in Congress from 1967-83, McCloskey co-authored the Endangered Species Act and co-chaired the first Earth Day, the only Republican willing to do it. Defy expectations today in his memory.

David Allen writes Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, as you expect. Email, phone 909-483-9339, like davidallencolumnist on Facebook and follow @davidallen909 on X.

Stage Red amps up for first concert (and Sammy Hagar) in Fontana (2024)
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