ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Stateline Drive-In Theatre in Carter county was built in 1947 and has been operating for 76 years, but now it is on the market for a new owner.
Andy Wetzel has been running the theater for 27 years now.
“Obviously I’m getting older. I’ve done this for 27 years, my wife and I realized our kids are grown,” Wetzel said. “They’re in the military, they’re moving different places and we would like to have the opportunity to go visit. It’s just more freedom.”
Wetzel hopes that the property’s next owner will keep it as a drive-in.
“We’re excited to hopefully have someone else come up and enjoy this and have the same enthusiasm for it as we have,” Wetzel said. “That’s sincerely what we hope can happen.”
Wetzel presented the property to Carter County commissioners, but said the county declined to purchase the property. Carter County Commissioner Robert Acuff explained why the buyout is not doable.
“Well one, we’re not in the business of running a theater or a drive in,” Acuff said. “Number two, we don’t have any prospects for a business that we could place on that property.”
Despite the county’s denial, Acuff said he also hopes that the Stateline will stay in its current form.
“I think those of us who live in Carter County, Elizabethton and probably the surrounding region would certainly hate to lose that icon of a drive in,” Acuff said.
Wetzel says that he has not yet sold the property but has some buyers that are interested. Some encouraging requests have come from movie theater owners already.
“We’re still in that process and if they decide they want to do that, we’re excited for them,” Wetzel said. “Again, it’s a great business.”
Wetzel did not specify how much he plans to sell the property for. In the meantime, he has plans to reopen in April.