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Local News

Rialto Square Theatre in Joliet to consider 5 management proposals

JOLIET – The Rialto Square Theatre board will consider five proposals from outside companies to manage its operations.

The board Wednesday also voted to seek bids as it tries to sell its Two Rialto Square office buildings.

The Rialto is seeking a third-party manager and putting property up for sale as it tries to improve its financial condition and bring shows back to the theater.

The theater has all but stopped booking shows because of cash flow problems and a change in management since former General Manager Randy Green was forced out mid-contract as the theater fell behind in its payroll taxes.

It may be another six weeks before the board chooses a third-party manager.

“We want to move forward as quickly as possible, but we want to take our time to ask the right questions,” Vice Chairwoman Cynthia Tyler said at the meeting.

Chairman Dan Vera said the board will likely meet again at a special meeting sometime between Aug. 8 and 15 to narrow down the outside management candidates.

The five companies that submitted proposals are Caesars Entertainment, which owns Harrah’s Casino in Joliet; Onesti Entertainment in St. Charles; VenuWorks in Ames, Iowa; Pinnacle Venue Services in Virginia Beach, Virginia; and SMG in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

Representatives from Onesti and VenuWorks made presentations June 1 to the board, which at the time was considering whether to hire a new general manager or turn operations over to an outside management firm.

Vera said the Rialto also was contacted by two other companies. Preferred Facilities Management in Providence, Rhode Island sought information but decided not to submit a proposal. The Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Indiana inquired after the deadline, he said.

Two Rialto Square

The board voted to advertise for bids for a 45-day period for sale of the Two Rialto Square property on Chicago Street. The property includes the adjoining Terminal Building.

The board showed some eagerness to sell the buildings when member Vicki Murphy asked if the property needed to be advertised for 45 days or if the period could be shortened. Vera answered that the legal requirement is 45 days. He also said the board could choose to reject all bids.

Vera also commented on a discussion last week by the Joliet City Council, at which Mayor Bob O’Dekirk posed the possibility of the city buying the Rialto Square Theatre.

Vera said the Rialto board could not sell the theater without state legislation giving it the authority to sell the property. Such legislation was passed several years ago for the Two Rialto Square property.

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