Thursday, July 26, 2012

$400,000 City money into movie theater?

The City of Woodstock, through action of the City Council, seems poised to sink about $400,000 into the movie theater expansion on Main Street.

The Woodstock Independent, in its July 25 weekly edition, reports that the City Council came to a consensus... Too often, that means that one side held out longer than the other and finally gave in.

The owners of the Woodstock movie theater are good people. They own a chain of movie theaters throughout northern Illinois, and they operate a customer- and family-friendly chain. And they are in business. There is nothing wrong with that. It is to be commended. Plus, they are nice people.

Personally, I was not in favor of destroying the "look" of Main Street with the new, modern, un-historical design of the theater addition that is planned. Destroying the historic appearance of that block was necessary to accommodate the new theater design, which includes stadium seating. Take a look at the block of buildings between the current theater and parking lot (previously-owned by the City) to the end of the block at Washington St. Under the approved design, you can say Good-bye to historic downtown on the Square.

And if you think parking is bad now, just wait until the new theater is built. I don't believe for a New York Minute that parking is not going to be a huge problem. Bring in many, many cars that will be parked for a minimum of 2-3 hours for a movie. Where will customers of other businesses park?

They won't. And so the other businesses will suffer.

If, as Mr. Johnson says, in 2010 it was too expensive to do the project, why should City money now bail out a private business?

The city fathers (and mothers) think they are going to recuperate the city's investment in six years. And what if the rosy figures on today's projections collapse?

When is the last time you went to a movie theater? Ticket prices continue to increase. It wasn't long ago that movie tickets in Woodstock were $3.00, then $4.00, now $6.50 (6:00PM and later shows). At $6.50 it's still a good deal, compared to Crystal Lake and other theaters. But, when the stadium seats are in, will prices go up again?

When prices go up, fewer people go to the movies.  So the theater has to raise its prices; then attendance drops further. So prices go up, and attendance goes down.

And then there is the horrendous price of popcorn (corn kernels, air and a little butter) and soft drinks.

With home theaters, Netflix, Redbox, online streaming, Comcast, satellite, etc., is the City going into this with eyes wide open?

And is it even the City's province to invest public money in a private enterprise?

Classic Cinemas has not yet had to address the issue of allowing or prohibiting concealed weapons in its theaters, because Illinois legislators refused to allow law-abiding citizens to defend themselves outside their homes. What will the Johnson family decide, once Illinois does permit concealed-carry?

My guess is that the Woodstock City Council and the Woodstock Police Department will encourage prohibiting concealed-carry in a movie theater here. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Upscale Movie Theatre on the Square would be a great draw; however I too would want it to have the look & feel of the surrounding architecture.
A good liquor store on the Sqaure would be great too! DOH!

Gus said...

A few years ago there was a great wine store on the Square. I suspect that too much empty floor space, too-high prices, and too-high rent did them in.

Dinker Dew said...

I went to the movies just last week, and there was absolutely no place to park. Tried the empty VFW lot, but was caught by the bartender. We were late for the movie by the time we found a spot. I agree that parking will be a problem. With no place to park people will just go to other places in town. I would. I think not being able to find a parking spot goes in my top ten list of annoyances.

Richard W Gorski, M.D. said...

The City of Woodstock can't afford it they have to pay their law firm for all the REALLY GOOD advice they have been getting. Wonder if that firm is experienced in bankruptcy law?