JOLIET – City officials say they have been talking with entertainment companies that could provide an alternative management system for the Rialto Square Theatre.
But the Rialto governing board would have to buy into the idea. So far, there is no sign they are interested, Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said Monday at a City Council meeting.
O’Dekirk brought up the option during a discussion about the future of the theater, which is facing financial hard times while seeking a new general manager.
“Myself and the city manager have spoken with a third-party entity that I think would solve all the problems at the Rialto,” O’Dekirk said.
He also said Rialto board Chairman Dan Vera “did not want to go in that direction.”
“In all fairness, we kind of sprung it on him, and it kind of came out of left field,” O’Dekirk added, saying he would discuss the matter with Vera again.
The mayor, when asked later, said the city approached the potential third-party operator about the prospects of the Rialto.
But outside companies apparently are showing interest.
Councilman John Gerl said after the meeting that he was approached by an entertainment company making a pitch to run the Rialto. Neither Gerl or the mayor would say with whom they had spoken.
“I think it’s something we need to consider,” Gerl said. “I think everything’s an option.”
Vera could not be reached later for comment.
But Vera last week said he had been hearing from people in the entertainment business interested in becoming the next general manager at the Rialto. The Rialto board on April 6 approved a separation agreement with former General Manager Randy Green, whose departure was sparked by the discovery that the theater had run $120,000 behind on paying its payroll taxes.
The Rialto has paid off the taxes with money provided from the city’s annual $600,000 stipend for the theater. The city also has been guaranteeing performers’ fees with the money.
But City Manager Jim Hock told the council Monday that only $20,000 of the annual stipend will be left after the city pays for the Vince Gill show on May 5.
“At that time, I’m going to have to tell the booking agents for the performers that the city will not be guaranteeing any more acts,” Hock said. “The Rialto will be on their own.”
The Rialto does have other sources of income, including rentals for weddings that are a source of revenue in the spring and summer. The theater also has talked with promoters about putting ticket sales in escrow to guarantee performers’ money.