Rafe Cohen, President of Galaxy Theaters, said the new 12-auditorium theater will bring high-definition digital sound, 3D capability and one three-story tall IMAX screen for customers. Cohen said he and the Galaxy team were “thrilled to be in Sparks” and added that getting the project to Tuesday’s groundbreaking point came as part of a partnership with the City of Sparks.
“The greatest struggle really has been the economics of the last five years and overcoming that. Every step along the way the City of Sparks has been helpful and understanding and has helped move the ball forward,” Cohen said.
Sparks Mayor Geno Martini congratulated and thanked Cohen and his team for bringing the theater to Sparks and the Legends. Martini said the theater will benefit the whole northern Nevada area, and added that Tuesday’s turnout to the groundbreaking event was a testament to the vested interest in seeing Legends continue to prosper.
“It is not only going to be for Sparks and the citizens of Sparks, but it is for the people around the northern Nevada area and that will help bring more bodies to Legends and the restaurants we have around here,” Martini said. “I think that you can tell today by the number of people that showed up the built up emotions that have been around here for a long time in wanting to get a theater here.
“There is a lot of people here today and this is only the start. This theater, when it gets up and running, is going to be a beautiful addition to the Legends and it is really going to drive a lot of people into the shopping centers.”
Cohen agreed with Martini saying restaurants and nearby shopping centers are vital to a movie theater’s success. He said Legends already has a lot to offer and that the new Galaxy Theater would only bring in more visitors and locals to all the stores.
“It’s very important for a movie theater to be surrounded by restaurants,” Cohen said. “Two-thirds of visits to a movie theater include a meal either before or after so when we are talking about hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, it is going to have a significant impact on the restaurants and other shops here. We are very happy about being a part of the Legends.”
Attendees of the groundbreaking ceremony mingled near the gravel-filled area in view of the current construction, stopping occasionally to take pictures alongside famed movie characters like Darth Vader. Sparks City Manager Shaun Carey said the economy’s improvement from its recent deficits allowed Galaxy Theaters to continue investing in the community.
“(The theater) has been a cornerstone for about six years,” Carey said, “And the economy has improved and we have Galaxy Theaters choosing to make their investment in Sparks so I think this is clearly one of those economic development points where all things are going to rise. I think the presence of the theater will help every store that’s here and I think the presence of Scheels will help the movie theater, so this is kind of putting it all together.
“I think you are seeing the attention come back. It’s tough out there with lots of vacancies, but this will drive 4 million a year to this center and that will help all of these businesses that are here, attract more and it will be the region's first IMAX screen. Anytime you bring an innovation, it brings people.”
The IMAX theater is expected to open in January 2014 and will encompass 62,000 square feet of ground at Legends, which has already been slated for a new Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant and a resort/hotel casino. Carey said the hotel operations will begin when it makes “economic sense” to do so.
Construction of the theater will employ about 400 people during its about six-month process and will maintain about 50 jobs when the theater opens next year. Cohen said Galaxy Theaters will bring a whole new experience to the area that possibly has yet to be experienced.
“I think we are going to re-introduce the concept of movie theaters here,” Cohen said, “And everyone is going to be really surprised by what we do, and it is going to take the experience to another level. Stay tuned for more surprises.”