The Chief Plaza Theater, operated by Carmike Cinemas, is closing its doors Sept. 6 in downtown Steamboat Springs. The lease for Carmike Cinemas is up Oct. 1, and the early closing date leaves the company time to pack up.

John F. Russell/file

The Chief Plaza Theater, operated by Carmike Cinemas, is closing its doors Sept. 6 in downtown Steamboat Springs. The lease for Carmike Cinemas is up Oct. 1, and the early closing date leaves the company time to pack up.

Chief Plaza Theater in downtown Steamboat Springs to close Sept. 6

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Reader poll

What do you think should be done with the Chief Plaza Theater in the near term?

  • Turn it into an independent movie theater. 32%
  • Turn it into a live music venue. 41%
  • Close it until Friends of the Chief can buy it. 14%
  • I have a plan, but I'm not telling. 13%

214 total votes.

— The downtown district in Steamboat Springs will be without a movie theater after Sept. 6. The Chief Plaza Theater operated by Carmike Cinemas is closing its doors that night, and the company is moving out its equipment.

The lease for Carmike Cinemas is up Oct. 1. The early closing date leaves the company time to pack up.

“It’s a definite loss,” said Tracy Barnett, manager of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs. “The movie theater has been around for 70-something years,” she added, noting it has been through multiple iterations and venues in downtown.

Barnett said the presence of a movie theater helps other downtown businesses.

“Often (moviegoers) will have dinner or dessert afterward, and it’s something to do in the evening without having to go to a bar,” she said. “It does leave a hole in the options we have for evening entertainment.”

While the Chief may be in limbo after Carmike leaves, the renovation of the theater into a performing arts venue long has been the goal of the nonprofit group Friends of the Chief, of which Barnett is a board member. The contract between the group and building owner Michael Barry has been a drawn out, on-again, off-again affair.

“If everything goes right, we will be able to close on it before the end of the year,” Friends of the Chief spokesman Jim Cook said. “It’s all positive. It’s all moving forward.”

Jon Sanders, of Ski Town Commercial real estate agency, is representing Barry and said the building owner's first choice is for Friends of the Chief to buy the building. However, Sanders said his client is batting around some Plan B ideas for the venue to keep it open and functioning in the near term. Among the proposed options are turning the Chief into an independent, boutique theater or a live music venue.

“We’re looking for folks that may be interested in leasing the space,” Sanders said.

Sanders said his client does want to see the building in use. Otherwise, “it will end up being closed, which isn’t going to help downtown,” he said.

The venue will close after Carmike leaves, at least in the short term, said Grant Bursek, Barry’s attorney.

“We would entertain offers,” he said about the potential for another lease, but he reiterated that his client’s first wish is to get a deal done with Friends of the Chief.

“We could get someone in there right away if we move quickly,” Sanders said. “If anybody wants to turn it into the Fox Theatre, they should be calling me.”

Sanders can be reached for ideas or inquiries at 970-871-0002.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

Chief Plaza Theater timeline

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