SPARKS, NV - As groundbreaking events go, the ceremony Tuesday morning at the Outlets at Legends in Sparks was unusual.
First, the scheduling was a little tardy. Construction has actually been underway for weeks.
Work continued in the background as Legends management, representatives of Galaxy Theatres and various local dignitaries spoke
and Sparks Mayor Geno Martini delivered a treasure chest of SWAG with a skip loader.
While all this was happening an unusual assortment of other notables including Batman, Darth Vader and Snow White looked on.
The project itself is unusual. The first IMAX theatre in our area. We're told it will include 12 theatres with 3D capabilities and a giant screen IMAX auditorium with lazer-aligned loudspeakers.
Mayor Martini figures it will draw people from throughout the area to Sparks.
"It's the only one in our area," notes Martini. "The nearest IMAX theatre is in Sacramento. It's going to be a big boon for us."
By now the strategy should be familiar.
New theatres have anchored redevelopment districts a mile or so away in Sparks' Victorian Square and in downtown Reno, the idea being they create foot traffic which helps spur growth around them.
And it seems to have worked, for the theatres at least, with one notable exception.
If you never realized that big dome sticking out of the National Bowling Stadium is actually IMAX-like theatre, you're not alone. It failed as a public attraction, though it's still used from time to time by school groups.
This project is unlikely to fail as a new attraction for a shopping center which was launched in the teeth of a recession and now emerging from those tough years.
In fact the most significant thing about Tuesday's event may have been what was going on in the background.
Construction. Something that has been rarely seen around here in recent years.
"It's good to see dirt moving on new projects," says the mayor, "and hopefully we've got some others coming very soon."
Theatre owners would like to open by Christmas. We're told something after the New Year is more likely.