More than a parking lot

By Josh Albrecht

Parking and entertainment have been and continue to be two monumental problems for NIU.

Year in and year out we demand better parking situations and more entertainment, and every year, the parking schemes change, and the entertainment pretty much stays the same.

But a recent acquisition by NIU has paved the way to help solve this brain teaser.

Eddie Williams, NIU’s chief operating officer, said NIU is set to gain about 200 parking spots through the purchase of Carrols Cinema, 1201 W. Lincoln Highway. Plus, if the building was leveled, then more spots would be created.

But before NIU does something drastic, I hope it weighs out its options.

By purchasing Carrols Cinema, NIU has taken a step to solve the parking problem because, as the plan goes, the new spaces will be available next fall.

However, without realizing it, or maybe they did and didn’t say anything, NIU officials have gained the ability to provide more entertainment for the university and the town.

Now, in a perfect world, this is how NIU would use their new building and accompanying lot:

Step one would be to restore the theater to working order, and use it to show movies. This would greatly benefit the Campus Activities Board, who often show free movies at the Carl Sandburg Auditorium and Cole Hall.

While these venues are great for a number of things, they are not great for watching movies. But a cinema would give a better movie-going experience to students.

Plus, NIU could make some money selling popcorn, candy, pop and even pizza. And if things went really well, they could even show newer movies and classic movies much like a second-run theater, giving them the opportunity to charge $1(I would even pay $2) for admission.

But the beautiful thing is it doesn’t stop there. If NIU had its own theater, it also could hold student film festivals. Student-made films could actually be shown in a nice theater and if it got big enough, other schools could come to compete.

With this competition, NIU could charge money for people to enter, and we all know that friends and parents of the students would come to watch the festival, creating plenty of money-making opportunities for NIU and even DeKalb.

Maybe NIU could even get one of our famous alumni, like Robert Zemeckis or Joan Allen, to help sponsor, or at least promote it. Just think of the publicity for NIU; it really boggles the mind.

And if money is a problem, then we could always funnel some of those extra Student Association funds into this idea.

But of course, the biggest argument against this idea is that the building and its parking lot are needed for more parking spaces. But here is the solution.

If the lot is used for commuter parking, instead of residential parking, then at night and on the weekends when movies would show, other people could use it.

Now, I understand that some classes meet at night and commuters would have to use the lot then, but I highly doubt that 200 people on a Tuesday night are going to go to the theater.

Thus, we negate the impact that basketball and volleyball games have on commuters who park at Chick Evans Field House.

If more spots are still needed, then another solution arises & a solution that at first sounds ridiculous, but then becomes understandable.

To get more parking spots, NIU could create a new rule that freshmen are not allowed to bring their car to NIU. This would open up plenty of parking spots and keep more students here on the weekends.

Then, maybe NIU could get rid of its suitcase school stigma, and students would see that DeKalb isn’t that bad of a town after all. Maybe then more people would understand that walking isn’t that bad, and if they can’t grasp walking, then there is always the detestable Huskie Bus Line.

But, if NIU feels that it must destroy Carrols Cinema for a few extra parking spaces, then so be it. After all, then NIU could purchase the other theater for sale, Campus Cinemas & leaving plenty of opportunities for NIU to provide a quality movie-going experience and a place for communication majors to show off their work.

Let’s hope that NIU’s purchase of Carrols Cinema, one of the smartest things NIU has done in a while, proves to be worthwhile and beneficial for everyone.

And I think that an opening day showing of “Back to the Future” would be a great way to celebrate the execution of this idea.

I’ve got my fingers crossed.