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Local News

Joliet backs off pitch to Rialto for third-party management

Joliet city officials will not make a case to the Rialto board for third-party management of entertainment at the theater, after Mayor Bob O'Dekirk and board Chairman Dan Vera met last week.
Joliet city officials will not make a case to the Rialto board for third-party management of entertainment at the theater, after Mayor Bob O'Dekirk and board Chairman Dan Vera met last week.

JOLIET – City officials said they will not push a proposal to bring in a third party to manage entertainment at the Rialto Square Theatre.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk at City Council meetings last week the city had contacted such an operator and wanted to make a presentation to the Rialto Square Theatre board, which meets Wednesday.

But after meeting with Rialto board Chairman Dan Vera, O’Dekirk said Friday that he will not press the issue.

“I’m not disappointed,” O’Dekirk said. “I’d like to see the Rialto problems get straightened out. I know Dan does, too. It was a productive meeting. We just all have to work together.”

Vera did not immediately return phone Friday calls seeking comment about the matter.

The Rialto is in the process of seeking a general manager after parting ways with Randy Green in a separation agreement reached April 6.

Vera said at that meeting that the Rialto would begin seeking a new general manager immediately. The job had not yet been posted as of late Friday afternoon on the Rialto website, which listed openings for an accountant and a part-time school matinee coordinator.

O’Dekirk said at the April 18 City Council meeting Vera was opposed to the idea of a third-party entity managing the theater. But city officials no longer are saying that.

“He’s not saying they’re not interested,” City Manager Jim Hock said. “He’s just saying they’re pursuing a number of different options.”

Hock said the city had proposed a third-party company to handle the entertainment side of the Rialto business as a way to deal with the theater’s financial problems. The city has stepped in to guarantee that performers will be paid. But the money is coming out of a $600,000 annual Rialto stipend from the city that is expected to be nearly depleted after the city pays for the Vince Gill performance May 5.

Hock has written a letter to promoters to guarantee performers’ fees when two shows this month were in jeopardy. But the city does not plan to back any shows after May 5.

“As soon as I notify [promoters] that the city is no longer going to guarantee, I don’t know what the Rialto’s ability to book performances is going to be,” Hock said.

Interim General Manager Jack Ericksen earlier this month said the Rialto has stopped booking shows. He later said the theater was waiting for a new general manager to be hired, although it may begin booking sooner depending on how long the hiring process takes.

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