By Craig Bergh, Worthington
I see the subject of a new Worthington movie theater is in the news.
The world is changing. In the last year, we have seen the complete collapse of video stores. They just do not exist anymore. Americans stream their movies, period. Netflix, Amazon Prime, HULU, HBO, Starz, etc. The number of movie patrons going to any theatre in Worthington will be limited when they have all these other choices.
I recently went to see the new “Avengers” movie in Sioux Falls. Each ticket alone was $15. That is very expensive. I do not believe Worthington has a large group of residents willing to pay that kind of money. Also, when a movie is a blockbuster new release, the studio gets 70 percent of that ticket price. The theater keeps less than $4 of the $15 dollar ticket price. There is very very little left to pay for the theater and its employees.
The city of Worthington needs to be very, very cautious in approaching this issue. The possibility of this theater failing could be quite high. I have a low-cost solution for a Worthington movie theater.
In our downtown area, we have the Carpet Remnant Store. Some of you may remember this building was originally the Grand Theatre of Worthington. Although the building has been changed a bit, there are the remnants of the projection booth and the screen area. There would be some remodeling to get the building back to a theater, but the costs of remodeling would probably be quite reasonable.
Is this building available for purchase? I do not know. But, if this idea has merit, the current owner of the property could be presented with an excellent offer.
The city could easily hire an architect and/or contractor to estimate the costs of returning the site to its original design. Then, a total cost analysis of purchase price and remodeling could be made to determine if the idea is feasible. The investment to the city would probably be far far less than the millions proposed in the current discussions. The risks of this project would be very modest.
The owner of the old Worthington Mall theater has offered to supply a movie theater projector and speakers to the proposed new building. Perhaps he would be willing to do the same in the renovated Grand Theatre building.
Our neighboring city of Luverne has followed this exact model, and their theater is quite successful. The idea of reinvesting into downtown Worthington would be very positive. This new theater could be a centerpiece of rebuilding the appearance of downtown Worthington.
I like the idea of a theater being part of the downtown. This could be a start to reinvigorating downtown Worthington. Look to the nearby city of Luverne. They restored their old theatre to its former glory and their downtown looks great.
We need to stimulate the downtown area. Patrons (even if limited numbers) would be coming downtown for a movie, but would also have a meal or do some shopping before or after the movie.
Thank you everyone.