Plan that drive-in visit before it's too late

So much else to do, but you’ll be glad you took time to visit a drive-in, especially in honor of the 75th anniversary of the first one this Friday, June 6. Glad because of the fun you’ll have, the heritage you’re helping to preserve, and because the drive-in you visit might not be there next year — or even next month.

The Sacramento 6 Drive-In is located along the Lincoln Highway in California on what has become a big piece of valuable land just east of where US 50 crosses Folsom Blvd. The Sac 6, a latecomer that opened June 1973, was set to close after 2004; an August 5 article in the Sacramento Bee said owner Syufy Enterprises “hopes to raze the eucalyptus-lined lot to build a 20-screen multiplex and shopping mall.”

Was the problem low attendance? Janis Batesole, then vice president of operations and training for Syufy, which owns six other drive-ins and 75 multiplexes, said no: “It totally makes money because we own the land, so we don’t have occupancy fees. It’s just that the new project will be a better leverage of the corporate investment.”

A young patron was quoted as seeing the situation differently: “There’s no commercialism or any of that stuff like they have at the walk-in theaters. I’m going to be so sad if this place closes.” [Find that article, and commentary, HERE.]

The drive-in hung on but the future is again bleak. The May 11 Sacramento Bee reported that declining attendance has doomed the region’s last drive-in (from a peak of 13), despite pleas from the community to keep one of the last inexpensive family venues:

The plan calls for a $116.5 million reinvention of the 37.5-acre site, replacing the drive-in’s crackled concrete with a 439,700-square-foot shopping center, including a 20-screen indoor theater…. [and] major tenants lined up: Marshalls department store, Michaels crafts store, Bed Bath & Beyond and Best Buy.

And some residents welcome the change:

Rancho Cordova resident David Bingenheimer, who runs an electrical contracting firm, said the project would be good for him personally and professionally.

The area needs more retail stores, he said.

“… I’m looking forward to it,” Bingenheimer said. “We have to leave Rancho Cordova to do our shopping.”

But others think the drive-in just needs cleaned and advertised to draw more customers to the family-friendly site:

Once we lose this drive in, we will never have another one in the Sacramento area. What do we get in return, another half vacant strip mall with the same stores you can drive 10 minutes in either direction to patronize…. There is nothing else that would take the drive in’s place for late night family entertainment. Once we bulldoze them, there is no way to get a drive in back. Please reconsider. Maybe they could draw more business if they invested a little bit into the facilities and spent some money on advertising.

More comments follow these articles ONE and TWO, the most recent of which states that the project is set to proceed.

Sacramento 6 Drive-In
9616 Oates Drive
Sacramento, CA 95827
(916) 363-6572
Click HERE for movie times – while they’re still being shown.

One Response to “Plan that drive-in visit before it's too late”

  1. RoadDog Says:

    I’m happy to report that the McHenry Outdoor Theater here close to me in Illinois, is once again open for business this summer. Most years we get the horrible rumors that it won’t be reopening, and with development around it, I am sure that time is not too far removed.

    And, it has one of those old concrete screens, not one of those billboard ones.

    Seven bucks for two first-runs, if you can stay up that late. Good deal!!

    I like to Retro it, and have dinner at the local Dog ‘N Suds before the show. Then, of course, take some of that good old root beer with me for the show.

    This weekend, I will be in Litchfield, Illinois, for the Route 66 Festival and wil see “Cars” at the Sky View Drice-In. That would be a great place to see that movie, right on 66.

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