LOS LUNAS — The Los Lunas Parks and Recreation department made the announcement last week that a drive-in theater was coming to Valencia County.
The Badlands Drive-In will be located at the former Badlands BMX racetrack just north of the 13th Judicial Courthouse on N.M. 314 and Morris Road.
Los Lunas Parks and Recreation Director Jason Duran and Recreation Supervisor Marcos Castillo stood on a large dirt mound that would soon hold the drive-in’s screen.
Duran said the idea had been floating around for a month now, initially proposed as a one-time event.
“We had this extra space here and I just threw it out, ‘Why don’t we just try to do something permanent?’ knowing that COVID is going to be around for a while,” Duran said.
Because the village is utilizing all of their staff and recycling materials already accessible, Duran says there will be a minimum fee to attend the drive-in due to licensing expenses the village has to pay for showing movies.
“Everyone’s involved now, the street division, open space, parks, recreation, the water department. Everyone is helping out with this,” Duran said. “The mayor and council have been on board with this and have already pledged their support.”
Duran said community members have called requesting to use the village administration building to hold yard sales, but it would be difficult to practice social distancing in that building. He hopes this space will open up a wide range of possibilities for the community to benefit from.
“This is a way to possibly help them fundraise, because we know sports are coming up in the springtime, non-profits need to fundraise because they’re limited as well, so this is an opportunity for them to sell concessions,” Duran said.
Castillo said patrons will have to register through their online system to get tickets. They are estimating about 100 cars will be able to fit in the space at a time, but to avoid overcrowding, people have to get their ticket online so the department can make sure they don’t exceed that number.
“If you don’t already have an account, register for that now before you try to buy tickets,” Castillo said. “You’re probably going to get locked out if you try to make an account through our online platform while purchasing tickets.”
The sound for the drive-in will be through an FM transmitter so people will listen to the movies using the radios in their vehicles.
As the seasons change and it gets darker outside earlier in the day, there might be room for more than one showing of a movie in a day.
“We hope to stream not only movies, but we don’t know what NMAA is going to do with events, so there’s a possibility of showing those live-sporting events. We’re also looking into the live-streaming aspect of it as well,” Duran said. “That’s why we wanted something long-term. There’s so many new possibilities this opens up for us.”
The department is hoping to have the site completed by mid-September.
“The thing that makes me really proud of it is that we’re finally utilizing a space we haven’t used in a long time, and utilizing recycled materials. The village is going to get so much out of this,” Castillo said.
They’re also reaching out to local businesses in the hopes of giving them an opportunity to sell concessions.
“Once it opens up, the options are unlimited,” Duran said.