An agreement for Comedy-Sportz to lease the Rocket theater in downtown Rock Island is expected to be approved Monday by the city council.
The theater at 224 19th St. has sat empty since the Rocket Cinema, a bar and movie theater, closed in 2006.
City manager John Phillips said Renaissance Rock Island owns the theater and would lease the property to ComedySportz, which moved out of its former location just around the corner at 1818 3rd Ave., earlier this year. The lease is for three years.
“We’re delighted to have ComedySportz stay in Rock Island and to have a new home,” Phillips said.
Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley said ComedySportz is a “great asset” to the downtown and was happy to keep the troupe while finding a reuse for the theater.
“I think it’s an excellent facility for ComedySportz,” he said. “It fits all of their needs.”
Jeff De Leon, company artistic director for ComedySportz, said members of the comedy improvisation troupe toured the building and was happy with what they saw.
“We walked through the venue and really liked it, and we really wanted to stay in Rock Island,” he said.
ComedySportz celebrated its 20th anniversary earlier this year, then announced it was splitting with Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse, which was located next door to its former site.
The development agreement with Comedy Sportz includes a $225,000 contribution from the city to Renaissance Rock Island with $200,000 for renovations and the remainder going to fixtures, furniture and equipment. Redevelopment costs can be covered with Downtown Tax Increment Financing funds, according to the city.
“It’s one more exciting venue for our downtown, for our residents and for people to come and enjoy,” said Brian Hollenback, president of Renaissance Rock Island.
Meanwhile, ComedySportz will continue its fundraising tour through October with plans to open at the theater in November, De Leon said.
The money raised will help with improvements at the theater where ComedySportz hopes to expand with late night shows and off-weekend performances, he said.
The theater itself opened in the 1940s as a single-screen movie house. It became a discount theater before closing in the 1980s and then reopened in 2005 as Brew and View II at the Rocket Cinema, which closed in 2006.