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Local News

Two finalists selected in bid to manage Rialto

Committee decision expected next week

JOLIET – An advisory committee to the Rialto Square Theatre decided Monday on two finalists out of five proposals from companies looking to become third-party managers of the theater.

The five companies that made proposals were Caesars Entertainment, Onesti Entertainment, VenuWorks, Pinnacle Venue Services and SMG.

The committee discussed all five proposals before each member anonymously ranked them in order of most-favorite to least-favorite on a sheet of paper. The votes were then tallied.

The committee was nearly unanimous in ranking the top two proposals. VenuWorks claimed the No.1 spot with 10 out of 11 first-place votes, while Pinnacle Venue Services secured the No. 2 spot with 10 out of 11 second-place votes. SMG placed third with nine out of 11 third-place votes. Caesars Entertainment and Onesti Entertainment placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

Committee members were fond of VenuWorks’ willingness to invest in food and beverage up to $350,000. Rialto finance manager Dale Evans said VenuWorks indicated how the Rialto could duplicate what a similar theater has done in Davenport, Iowa.

Joliet City Councilman Pat Mudron, who is council’s liaison to the Rialto, said the company manages several other theaters similar to the Rialto and demonstrated a clear understanding of the position the Rialto is in. Committee members were also encouraged by the company’s financial plan.

In regard to Pinnacle Venue Services, Evans said the company uses consumer feedback to help steer venues in the right direction. He said Pinnacle’s proposed operating budgets indicated a financial loss in the first year of management, which committee members called “very realistic.”

Evans said to the committee that companies made budget proposals that predict financial losses in the first few years of management, which validates that the Rialto has been doing the best it can with what is available to it.

“This affirms where we’re at today,” Evans said.

Pinnacle projected a loss of $693,000 in the first year but projected a loss of $488,000 in the third year. The company has not yet toured the Rialto, but requested additional financial information before its proposal. Committee members said it’s about decreasing the loss as much as possible year-by-year.

The committee will tentatively meet at 4 p.m. Aug. 15 to hear formal proposals. Rialto Square Theatre board Chairman Dan Vera notified both companies after the meeting. They will each get 30 minutes to present on five subject areas and 20 minutes for a question-and-answer session.

Depending on how the presentations go, the committee could vote to recommend a third-party manager that evening. Or it could wait until the planned voting meeting scheduled for Aug. 17.

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