Downtown movie theater 'getting VIP treatment'

Posted Sunday, Mar. 03, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The AMC Palace 9 movie theater in Sundance Square is getting its first major face-lift since opening 17 years ago.

The downtown Fort Worth theater will become one of the first AMC theaters in the country with plush power recliners and footrests, which AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan says provide for a phenomenal movie-watching experience. The Palace 9 will be among about 10 AMC theaters to have them, Noonan said.

Because the recliners are larger than the current seats, capacity in those theaters will be cut by at least 50 percent, he said. Renovations will also include new carpet and paint, updated restrooms and a redesigned concession area. The theater is also considering adding a bar or lounge to serve beer, wine and cocktails, Noonan said. New Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, which offer 120 drink options, are also being added.

"It's getting the VIP treatment," Noonan said of the theater at 220 E. Third St. "It is a whole new look and a whole new feel."

Work could start this spring and be completed by late summer. The theater will remain open during construction.

"What we are doing at AMC Palace 9 will help redefine 'going to the movies' in terms of comfort and presentation," said Mark McDonald, executive vice president of development at AMC.

AMC joins other theater chains in adding upscale amenities, including improved seating, dining service and 3-D capability.

"The renovations at the AMC, coupled with the vast selection of restaurants and the plaza opening in October, will further engrain Sundance Square as the premier North Texas entertainment destination," said Johnny Campbell, Sundance Square president and CEO.

Ohio State rejects Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys, still reeling from a disappointing season on the football field last year, are trying to bounce back from a setback off the field as well.

In November, the Cowboys' Silver Star Merchandising unit lost a bid for a big apparel contract at Ohio State University after United Students Against Sweatshops waged a campaign accusing the Cowboys of using overseas garment factories with troubling working conditions. Ohio State awarded the $97 million apparel contract to the team of J. America Sportswear and Fanatics Inc.

The Ohio State bid was part of a recent effort by the Cowboys, one of the top sellers of merchandise in the NFL, to go after big apparel deals with major colleges. It landed its first contract with the University of Southern California before running into opposition at Ohio State.

Many U.S. apparel companies have come under pressure to improve working conditions at Third World garment factories, now the center of global apparel manufacturing, amid reports of very low wages, long hours and safety problems. Fatal garment factory fires last year in Bangladesh and Pakistan put the spotlight on companies, including Wal-Mart, Walt Disney and Fort Worth-based Dickies.

United Students Against Sweatshops was formed in the late 1990s to bring attention to the issue on college campuses. The group has forced brands to disclose the location of supplier factories, said Garrett Shishido Strain, the international campaign coordinator. Other campaigns have been waged against Adidas and Russell Athletics, he said.

Losing the Ohio State contract, Shishido said, sent the Cowboys "a strong message that if they don't change, they won't be able to get any of these deals."

Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels said the Cowboys affiliate, 289c Apparel, operates under a Code of Conduct and wants to work with its foreign suppliers "to make them better for everyone." Last year, he said, the Cowboys were accepted into the Fair Labor Association, a group of businesses, universities and organizations that have pledged to uphold international labor standards. It also invested in a project with Better Factories Cambodia aimed at fostering communication between workers and its group using cellphones.

The Cowboys plan to seek out other college apparel business, he said.

-- Steve Kaskovich

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552

Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718

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