WNEP, Scranton PA’s news leader, ran a story last week about the Mahoning Drive-In in nearby Mahoning Township. There’s a dispute there between the Mahoning’s projectionist / manager and a Florida guy who said he wanted to lease-purchase the place. It turns out that a similar scene played out last year at the Tee Pee Drive-In of Sapulpa OK, where things didn’t work out so well.
According to WNEP, Mahoning manager Mike Danchak was contacted by Glen Brannon, who said he wanted to lease and eventually buy the drive-in so it would continue to operate. So this spring a bunch of volunteers helped spruce up the Mahoning. Then Brannan sold 250 season passes for $59 a carload, but Danchak said the drive-in “would go bankrupt” if they accepted those, so he had to buy them back, using up the money he was saving toward buying a digital projector.
The remarkable thing about this story is how closely it matches what happen to the Tee Pee. According to a summary at Route66News.com, the same Florida guy, then going by the name Russ Glen, lease-purchased the Tee Pee, which had closed in 1999. (Speaking of confusing names, you’ll see the name Tee Pee used with and without a space in various news stories. Based on photos of the original sign, I’m going with Tee Pee.)
Soon after Glen entered the picture, a group of volunteers repainted and cleaned up the Tee Pee. The summary says that Glen also set up the TeePee Drive-In Theater Association to accept donations of money and equipment for the theater’s restoration. A month later, one of the volunteers said “the association is suspending the acceptance of donations, and money from the bank account has been removed because of ‘issues with the legitimacy of the nonprofit.'” Glen insisted that everything was perfectly legitimate. And from all accounts, the Tee Pee never reopened.
And that’s about as far as I can go, given that I have no first-hand information about any of these stories. I recommend the Route66News summary, which also includes a lot of links and embedded videos of the Tee Pee saga. For the Mahoning, only time will tell.