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By JENNIFER RAYMOND
The days of catching a movie at the Midtown Drive-In are numbered.
Owner Douglas Freeman has put the historic drive-in up for sale and plans to close down operations the first of August.
Manager Charli Michaels said the drive-in just isn’t drawing in big crowds like it has in the past.
“We’re just pulling in a couple hundred,” Michaels said. “We should be pulling in 600 or 700.”
The drive-in has not escaped repercussions from the downturn of the economy.
Michaels also blames the Dec. 22, 2008, ash spill at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant for falling numbers.
“We don’t have the tourism up here,” Michaels said.
Roane Countians were very supportive when there were talks about the drive-in closing in May, Michaels said. However, it wasn’t enough to keep it going.
Freeman owns another drive-in, the Parkway in Blount County, and Michaels said
he hasn’t seen a decrease there.
Although there is a bigger population to draw from than Roane County, the economy hasn’t seemed to affect them, Michaels said.
“They are just pumping away,” Michaels said. “Roane County is definitely hurting.”
Michaels also runs the Blue Moon Cafe, which she recently closed in light of the sale.
She said she plans to relocate somewhere else in Roane County.
As for when the drive-in is closing, Michaels said they are going week to week.
“We’re barely making enough to support it,” she said.
If they do break even one weekend, Michaels said it might allow them to stay open for another weekend.
“We aren’t expecting a miracle,” Michaels said.
From July 15-19, the drive-in will show “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
“I know the economy is tight and all, but $6 for two movies, you can’t beat it,” Michaels said.
She hopes someone will buy it and keep the drive-in alive.
“If someone has the heart and wants to keep the drive-in,” Michaels said. “I’d like to see the drive-in keep going.”
She added that they haven’t heard from any serious buyers just yet.
If Freeman isn’t able to sell the land and property, Michaels said he will close up and sell the equipment.
The 7.1 acres and building is selling for $350,000 through NAI Knoxville.
It has 400 designated parking spaces, a concession stand and 40-seat diner.
The drive-in was originally named the Roane County Drive-In when it was in business in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s.
It was closed for several years, and the property was used for different things before reopening in 1995.