Thirty years ago, Shiel Sexton completed the iconic Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center in Noblesville, IN. Though the amphitheater has changed names a handful of times, many first-generation fans still affectionately call the center by its original name, Deer Creek Music Center. The initial construction consisted of seating for 6,500, lawn seating for 12,000, parking for 7,000 cars, six separate buildings for concessions, ticket sales and storage, several unique VIP shelters, and six restrooms. Today, the venue has capacity for more than 24,000 guests!

The construction schedule set was for less than a year. Tirelessly working through the fall and winter months, the team provided the finished product at the start of the 1989 summer. Opening day took place on May 20, 1989. The gathering crowd anxiously waited to see the new amphitheater where many locals would come to spend their summers. As seats filled up to welcome headliner Sandi Patty, the construction team feverishly finished one last power wash by the back gate to ensure everything was perfect for the night.

Shiel Sexton’s Dave Burchard was the project manager for the construction’s entirety. From his first steps onto the field, until his last, he focused on bringing the music venue to life.

“The majority of the site was a huge soybean field. Bill Burnett (project superintendent) and I walked through the field to approximately locate the stage. Seven retention ponds were created, and the dirt from those helped create the seating mounds.”

Dave recalls the unforgettable obstacles the team faced while the amphitheater took shape during the construction progression,

 “The roof trusses were a huge logistical challenge. We had to deliver them in sections and lay them down across the seating bowl to weld them together. Two cranes hoisted the trusses up and bolted on top of the 40-foot concrete columns. The process was meticulous, but they fit together perfectly.” 

The facility remains the largest outdoor venue in Indiana and is in the top five amphitheaters for attendance in the world. As we celebrate this anniversary, we remember the early projects that molded Shiel Sexton into the company it is now. 

Deer Creek Fun Facts – by the Numbers!

  • 50+ subcontractors on the job
  • 33 foot-tall seating mound covered in three acres of bluegrass sod
  • Four hundred tons of steel used
  • 3,000 gallons of paint used
  • 8,640 flowers planted
  • 1.75 acres under the pavilion roof
  • 750,000 cubic yards of soil transformed from agricultural to cultural use