“Big building, big possibilities,” reads the For Sale sign outside Rugby’s Centre Cinema.
Local leaders believe the possibilities are there, but it may come at a cost.
Brenda Foster, executive director of the Job Development Authority and Shelley Block, executive director of the Rugby Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau, have organized a community public information meeting on the future on the theater.
The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Otter Tail Room.
Currently, the Centre Cinema is for sale by owner David “DJ” Anderson, who plans on closing the theater at the end of the year.
Block said she has been approached numerous times in the community about the future of the building, and the meeting should provide some future options and quell rumors.
“People have been approaching Brenda and me, asking for help and wondering what do we have to do to keep the theater,” Block said. “There are many people in this town that are really concerned. That’s why we decided we have to do something.”
Anderson said he has had a few inquiries from people who would be interested in changing the building from a theater, but he didn’t feel like they would go any further than the initial inquiry.
He said discussions he has had with Foster and Block which involved keeping the theater have been more serious, and he hopes, will be more fruitful.
“I would much prefer the building remain a theater, but at the end of the day, you’d like to get some money back for what you’ve paid for,” Anderson said.
The theater question was brought up at the most recent JDA meeting and Block said she and Foster would likely take the situation to the city council in the near future.
Foster said one option might be for the JDA to purchase the theater, update it and lease it to an individual to operate it.
But Foster said the cost of updating the sound and projector to digital capabilities and the electrical box would be in the area of $150,000.
The technology update would open up more possibilities to the theater operator, including a greater variety of films.
“The neat thing about digital, is you could show sporting events or broadway shows,” said Block, who added video game tournaments would also be a possibility.
Foster said it boils down to how big a priority it is for residents.
“We have to ask the community, ‘are you ready to step up?’ ” she said. “Whether that’s volunteering or a monetary donation. Or do we just let it go because Devils Lake and Minot are close enough?”
Foster compared the project to the JDA involvement in restoring the Ben Franklin building, which cost around $120,000 but is now being used and is viable.
“It’s a quality of life thing,” Foster said. “Cando, Langdon, Cooperstown, Harvey, New Rockford – all of those theaters are community owned.”
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