It's been a crazy 2.5 years of owning the Kasson State Theatre. I'm Darin Steffl and I purchased the Theatre in March of 2020, just a week before Covid lockdowns. This was a special place to me growing up as a kid. I'm from Kasson and remember all the fun times I had coming to movies here with friends and family. A friend told me it was for sale and I went to look at it 3 times before putting in an offer. The Theatre barely breaks even financially each year so I knew this would be a sizeable donation of my time and money back to the community and the Theatre itself. I didn't want to see it close and I felt I would be the person who could keep it going for many years to come.
I kept the Theatre afloat for a full year with personal financing and concession takeout nights until we reopened for movies in March 2021. Since then, we've been showing first run movies while restoring and improving parts of the building. We've renovated two bathrooms, replaced some lobby flooring, upgraded servers and audio equipment, added a new Air Conditioning system, added a VIP Suite, added self-serve soda, digital signage, and more! We have much more work ahead like Heated, Luxury Recliners, a new concession stand, a new 4K Laser Projector, steel siding on the west wall with insulation, and online ticketing/reservations coming this year. Next year, we're hoping to renovate the front of the building with a new marquee and digital screens. All-in, I'm personally spending around $750,000 for the purchase of the Theatre and all the improvements we're making through 2023. If we continue to break even each year, I'll never see a return on what I'm donating to the Theatre, which means I truly love this place and only want to see it stick around forever. It's not about making money. Hundreds of highschool students have worked here over the years and I've heard we're the most fun place to work in town.
We're also getting a new roof and that's where our sad news starts. On Saturday, July 23, we experienced water damage from the part of our roof that was being worked on. High winds ripped up part of the roof that was supposed to be temporarily sealed to keep rain out. Once the wind ripped up this rubber, the wood deck was exposed and we had lots of water come into the Theatre from the two storms we had that day. We will definitely work with insurance to restore the building to great condition but it will take some time. We'll be closed for at least a couple months or more. During this time, we'll have no income and our other renovations will continue to proceed which means more high dollar investments while we're closed for repairs.
I'm not a guy that normally asks for donations because I'm usually the person who gives a lot more than I receive. My main business, Minnesota WiFi, has the naming rights to the performing arts center at KM Schools because of a large annual donation. It's called the "Minnesota WiFi Performing Arts Center" and it's my largest monetary donation to the community. We also donate to Relay for Life, Festival in the Park, KM Care and Share, and other organizations. The Theatre has also donated gift cards to many fundraisers to support good causes.
I can't help but feel stressed and somewhat disappointed with the hurdles the Theatre has faced such as: Covid lockdowns, lack of movie releases, low attendance for certain movies, difficulties in finding contractors, the cost of renovations, the time it takes for projects to be completed, and now water damage. I LOVE this Theatre and I will keep it running for many years to come. That said, I could use some help in achieving our goals. We have a digital projector that is 10-years old that needs replacement this year. The cost for a new one is about $75,000. I'm also spending $65,000 on the new roof right now and over $56,000 this fall for insulation and steel siding on our west wall. Recliners will cost about $90,000.
The Theatre could really use some help from our loyal customers and community members. If you love the Theatre as much as I do, we welcome donations of any amount you can spare to support the mission of keeping us running for the next 30 years. I'm committing $750,000 personally through 2023 and I'm hoping we can reach a goal of $100,000 for this fundraiser which should allow us to restore and renovate the Kasson State Theatre.
Please know I don't take this request lightly. I really don't like asking for donations but we could use the help. All our projects are costing much more with supplies and labor costs higher than ever. I'll keep spending as much as I can personally and I hope the community can help us reach the finish line with our $100,000 goal for this campaign. Thank you so much for your support and consideration! If you can't donate, we ask that you spread the word about us to new people who've never visited us yet. Once we reopen, we want to welcome new customers from all over to come check us out.
If you would prefer to donate via check, you can mail checks to our address below. We'll add offline donations like checks to the fundraising total to keep track of all donations. If you wish to remain anonymous for your donation, please inform us of that with your check or online gift. Thank you so much for all your support!!!
Kasson State Theatre
221 W Main St
Kasson, MN 55944