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El Rey Theater in Albuquerque closes February 5, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Theaters.
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The historic El Rey Theater in downtown Albuquerque closed a few days ago because the operator was encountering cash-flow problems with another venture, according to KOB-TV.

Here’s the station’s report:

The report makes it clear that El Rey, located on Central Avenue (aka Route 66), could reopen quickly if another operators signs a lease there. But apparently downtown is either struggling or a few businesses are going through bad luck.

A February 2013 report in the Albuquerque Journal said oil-industry businessman Tino Robles took over management of the theater to bring live music there. He spent about $700,000 on various upgrades there.

According to that article, El Rey — built in 1941 — and the neighboring Golden West saloon are knownn as the Puccini Building after Luigi Puccini, whose family holds the property in a trust.

As a live-music venue in the past 30-plus years, the theater has hosted an impressive array of acts, including Weezer, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Texas Tornadoes, Son Volt, Roger McGuinn, Phish, Richie Havens, No Doubt, Los Lobos, Lyle Lovett, Leon Russell, John Lee Hooker, Emmylou Harris, Bo Diddley and many more.

(Image of the El Rey Theater in 2011 by Pete Zarria via Flickr)

Tucumcari theater reopens Friday after renovations January 9, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Theaters.
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The historic Odeon Theatre in downtown Tucumcari, N.M., reopens Friday with a 7 p.m. screening of the animated film “Frozen” after months of interior renovations by its new owners.

Improvements included upgrades to the long-substandard sound system and a conversion to digital projection, including 3-D capability for the theater’s next film, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” More work on the theater is planned before summer.

Tucumcari natives Christy Dominguez, a former office worker at Mesalands Community College, and Robert Lopez, a farmer, decided to buy the theater after going on a date there and noting it had been for sale for years. They closed on the property in April from longtime owner Ramon Martinez and shuttered the theater in mid-September to begin renovations.

Dominguez, who also is the theater’s general manager, said in a telephone interview work included repairing, repainting or reupholstering the theater’s 385 seats, new tile and carpeting, new acoustic tiles on the walls, and cleanup and repairs to the lobby and bathrooms.

Dominguez said they were mindful of not changing the 1937 theater to endanger its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. “We wanted to maintain the historical integrity,” she said.

Dominguez declined to say how much money they spent overhauling the Odeon, other than it was “substantial.” Despite that, the cost of an adult ticket when the theater opens Friday will be $6 — an increase of just 50 cents before the Odeon closed in the fall.

She said they may close the theater again in the spring for a few more weeks of work, including repainting the exterior. They will apply for a state historical preservation grant for some of that.

The theater’s balcony remains closed, but Dominguez said they intend to eventually convert it into a VIP section, with reclining seats and other amenities.

Dominguez said the theater is contractually obligated to show just one new movie per week, despite the flexibility of digital. However, they hooked up a Blu-ray player to the projector so the Odeon can screen old movies on special occasions. She gave John Wayne films as a treat for some of the senior citizens in town as an example.

Dominguez noted the theater’s viability has increased since the closing of the historic Pecos Theatre in nearby Santa Rosa, N.M., in 2011. The Odeon remains the only theater within a 90-mile radius; the closest is in Clovis, N.M.

Although it sits a half-mile north of Route 66, Dominguez says the Odeon gets its share of Mother Road tourists referred from the Blue Swallow Motel, Motel Safari, Del’s Restaurant and other businesses. Because of the theater’s improvements and its historic nature, she expects that number to increase.

(Photos of the Odeon Theatre courtesy of Christy Dominguez)

Gillioz Theatre has a new owner November 23, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Theaters.

The historic Gillioz Theatre in downtown Springfield, Mo., has a new owner, and it’s not the local community college, as expected.

According to the Springfield News-Leader, Springfield resident Robert Low, owner of the Prime Inc. trucking company, purchased the theater that sits on an old alignment of Route 66. Low also signed a lease agreement with the nonprofit Springfield Landmark Preservation Trust, the previous owners.

The theater is expected to continue operating as usual, with the trust board continuing to oversee the theater’s management staff.

The lease agreement will significantly reduce the trust’s monthly mortgage payment, according to a release from the trust board.

Trust board vice president Dave Roling said it was a significant development.

“It took an enterprising businessman, M. E. Gillioz, to build the theater in 1926, and 87 years later another area businessman has stepped up to solidify the future of the theater for future generations,” he said.

Low was not at the news conference that announced the buyout. The Gillioz, deep in debt, had been scheduled for an auction this week and other times in the past three years. Ozarks Technical Community College was reported as one of the parties interested in buying the theater.

The Gillioz opened in 1926, the same year U.S. 66 was certified. The theater reopened in 2006 after a multimillion-dollar renovation.

(Image of the Gillioz Theatre by Lee Harkness via Flickr)

Gillioz Theatre auction postponed; agreement reached November 16, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Theaters.
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An auction planned Friday for the financially troubled Gillioz Theatre in downtown Springfield, Mo., was postponed at least a week amid a pending agreement.

According to the Springfield News-Leader reported Friday:

“The Board of the Springfield Landmarks Preservation Trust has reached a significant milestone today,” board president Philip Rothschild said in an emailed statement. “As a result of our progress and agreement, Guaranty Bank has delayed the sale of the Netters-Gillioz property while we schedule finalization of the agreement over the next several days.”

Rothschild did not explain the “milestone” or “agreement.” But he said programming at the theater remains “business-as-usual.” [...]

Rothschild said on Nov. 5 that Guaranty Bank, which loaned $4.3 million to the trust in April 2006 according to News-Leader archives, had “elected to call the mortgage on the property.” As a followup Thursday evening, Rothschild said in a email sent to local media that “Guaranty Bank should be in a position to verify the cancellation or postponement” of the auction by 10 a.m. today.

It was reported a few days ago that Ozarks Technical Community College  was pursuing a possible buyout of the historic theater. Because the college’s president was conspicuously present at the Friday news conference, it seems likely a purchase agreement went through.

The Gillioz was built in 1926 on what became Route 66. It closed about 1990, but reopened in 2006 after years of renovations.

(Image of the lobby of the Gillioz Theater by the Missouri Division of Tourism, via Flickr)

Gillioz Theatre likely will be auctioned Friday November 13, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Theaters.
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The historic Gillioz Theatre in downtown Springfield, Mo., is scheduled to go on the auction block on Friday, and a local college may be interested in buying it, according to the Springfield News-Leader.

Hal Higdon, chancellor of Ozark Technical Community College, told the newspaper the college would buy the theater if “the price is right” because it’s already using it to some degree.

For six years the college has rented space on the third-floor for its Fine Arts Department, he said.

In addition, the college holds several events at the 1,130-seat multilevel theater, including its G.E.D. graduation ceremony, its capping-and-pinning ceremonies for nursing graduates and twice a year it holds ceremonies for students inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, a national academic honors society.

Nothing would change regarding the operation of the Gillioz Theatre, Higdon said.

“We would contract with a third party just like is done now,” he said.

There’s still a chance the theater won’t be auctioned. The preservation trust said earlier in the month it remained in talks with the bank, and was confident a deal could be worked out.

The theater, which is owned by the Springfield Landmarks Preservation Trust, has suffered through financial issues in recent years, and Guaranty Bank is poised to call the loan on the property. At least report, the theater owed about $3.5 million. Three years ago, the theater avoided a foreclosure.

The Gillioz was built in 1926 on what became Route 66. It closed about 1990, but reopened in 2006 after years of renovations.

(Image of the Gillioz Theatre by Pete Zarria via Flickr)

Sky View Drive-In hosting a half-marathon race November 4, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Sports, Theaters.
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The historic Sky View Drive-In theater on old Route 66 in Litchfield, Ill., is hosting an inaugural half-marathon, called “Race Down Memory Lane,” and other activities organized around the event the weekend of Nov. 9, reported The Journal-News.

The 13.1-mile race begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday from the drive-in, with a 5-kilometer race starting there at 9:30 a.m. for folks who aren’t as ambitious. A total of 300 runners are expected.

And check this out:

Members of the public are encouraged to participate by volunteering or cheering for the racers from the sidelines. Enthusiastic and energetic Memory Lane Race Crews will be stationed along the route, providing entertainment and encouragement for the runners.

The night before the race “Chariots of Fire” will be shown free of charge for participants at the Sky View Drive-In, beginning at 7 p.m. Free popcorn and soda will be given away as well.

After the race, runners and their families may enjoy root beer floats, entertainment by Elvis Himselvis, a photo booth, classic  cars and volunteers from the Elizabeth Ann Seton program will be selling pork patties.

In case you forgot about “Chariots of Fire,” it was released more than 30 years ago. Here’s the famous opening scene:

You can register for the race here.

(Image of the Sky View Drive-In sign in Litchfield, Ill., by pezhore via Flickr)

Wacky weather hits Albuquerque and Tulsa July 27, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Theaters, Towns, Weather.
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A severe thunderstorm brought wind gusts of nearly 90 mph and caused flash flooding and power outages Friday in Albuquerque, reported several media outlets, including the Albuquerque Journal newspaper.

That storm follows another storm just a few days ago in Tulsa that caused 70 mph wind gusts and knocked out power to more than 100,000 in the city.

The storm in Albuquerque was so bad that officials closed Interstate 25 through a large chunk of the city. About 25,000 people were without power Friday night.

Fortunately, the Tulsa storm caused no injuries. About the only Route 66-related business that seemed to be adversely affected was the Admiral Twin Drive-In, which saw a few panels on one of its screens damaged. That forced the theater to show movies on just one screen until the panels could be replaced.

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