South Bend Tribune file photo

South Bend Tribune file photo (June 19, 2012)

SOUTH BEND — The State Theater has stood idle for years on South Michigan Street, but the grand movie palace still has plenty of admirers.

The downtown landmark means so much to local residents that dozens of them headed into the non-air-conditioned theater Tuesday afternoon just to listen to ideas that could help reopen it.

Banko Capital bought the State out of foreclosure in December and worked with Downtown South Bend Inc. to solicit the community’s visions for the old theater through a "Pitch Your Plan" contest. The call for input drew 88 entries in April, and the 10 finalists presented their proposals Tuesday.

Banko President Assaf Zvi Dagan said the winning idea won’t necessarily be implemented, but he does value the ideas that were submitted.

"First, we need to get the right idea. Then we need to get the capital," Dagan said. "The idea is to find something for the long run."

Gavin Ferlic, Paul Phair and David Sierdzki presented the winning pitch Tuesday.

Their idea is to make the State into a "rotating entertainment venue" that screens movies, and hosts musical and comedy acts on a regular schedule.

"What we found is, unfortunately, downtown at this time likely cannot support any single one of these," Ferlic told the contest’s four judges. "However, all of these combined can provide enough diversity and enough sustainability for a business to succeed."

Ferlic, who is a South Bend Common Council member and a business consultant at Innovation Park at Notre Dame, said the State would complement other entertainment venues in the city.

He said it’s smaller than the Morris Performing Arts Center, would have a different focus than the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center and, unlike Club Fever, would be open to people of all ages.

Ferlic added that drawing bands and comedians to the State could help other venues by proving to promoters that South Bend has a market for more entertainment.

Dagan presented the winners with a $1,000 check as a prize.

Staff writer Kevin Allen:
kallen@sbtinfo.com
574-235-6244