Sundance could lose Racquet Club theater |

Sundance could lose Racquet Club theater

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The renovation of the Racquet Club, planned to start as early as May, will make it difficult for Sundance Film Festival organizers to use the facility as they do now, the City Hall official who is leading the efforts to redo the building said.

Sundance turns the gymnasium at the Racquet Club into a screening room during the festival. The organizers also tap the tennis courts for the festival’s awards ceremony.

Under the renovation plans, it seems that there will be significant logistical problems for Sundance. The site would be a major construction zone during the 2011 festival and work could be continuing during the 2012 edition if there are delays. The work is projected to last 18 months, City Hall says.

Sundance has used the gymnasium as a screening room since 2005.

The plans envision razing the tennis courts where the awards ceremony is held and rebuilding a new set of courts. The gymnasium where the screenings take place is the only section of the existing Racquet Club that will not be torn down during the work. But it is not clear whether Sundance could use the gymnasium for screenings while the work is occurring around the gym.

Ken Fisher, who manages City Hall’s recreation programs and is heavily involved in the talks about the Racquet Club renovation, said officials have started discussions with Sundance organizers about the work.

Sundance typically reviews the operations of the festival annually, and organizers sometimes add a screening room, drop one or shuffle the way some are used. Sundance officials recently indicated they would discuss the Racquet Club situation after this year’s festival.

Holding 602 seats, the Racquet Club gymnasium is a crucial theater for Sundance. Of the Park City-area theaters, only the Eccles Center has a larger capacity.

City Hall plans to spend $10.5 million on the renovation, meant to update the aging facility with numerous new recreation offerings and environmental upgrades. The Park City Planning Commission this month approved the renovation.

Many Racquet Club users have said the work is needed to turn the facility into a more desirable place for workouts. Some people who live nearby, though, indicated in hearings the redone building will be too large and the Racquet Club should not be made into a grand athletic facility.

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