Going to the movies at Horizon | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Going to the movies at Horizon

by Sally J. Taylor

By Christmas, South Shore residents and visitors could enjoy the latest blockbuster from Hollywood inside a Stateline casino.

Sandy Hoy, director of marketing for Horizon Casino Resort, confirmed on Thursday that the casino is “seriously looking into” converting the Grand Lake Showroom into an eight-screen movie theater. Within the next two weeks, they hope to sign a contract with a theater developer.

“Everything is strictly at a one-foot kind of stance right now because a contract has not been signed,” Hoy said.

If everything goes through, she expects the new theater to be remodeled and open before the holiday season.

That timeline would open the Horizon theater well ahead of another eight-plex planned down the street in the Park Avenue Redevelopment Project.

Hoy feels the Horizon theater would have the edge.

“How many places can you go to a movie and have someone park your car for you,” she said.

The Grand Lake Showroom originally opened as the High Sierra Theatre in 1965 in what was then the Sahara Tahoe Hotel and Casino. Such entertainers as Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdinck, Nancy Sinatra, Pearl Bailey, Merle Haggard and The Carpenters played on its stage in the 60s into the 80s.

Changes in the entertainment industry have made it difficult for small showrooms to operate, Hoy said.

In the heyday of showrooms, she said, “there was no such thing as playing in arenas” with thousands of seats. In those venues, tickets sales can be $60,000 to $70,000 a night, leaving showrooms unable to compete.

When the Sahara became the High Sierra Hotel/Casino in 1983, the showroom was transformed into the Chuck Wagon Buffet.

Since becoming the Horizon about six years ago, the showroom has been used for big-name entertainers on major weekends and, at other times, for such things as conventions and fund-raising events. But often the showroom sits empty much of the week.

As a theater, “we would be bringing more people in, without a doubt,’ Hoy said.

“Marketing-wise, (remodeling to create a theater) is just utilizing the space you have to, to be more profitable.”

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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