Fox Theatre finances coming under scrutiny

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- It never was part of the original Rio Nuevo plan, but when an effort to re-build and re-open the historic Fox Theatre in downtown Tucson ran out of money, the city loaned it millions and labeled it a symbol of Rio Nuevo progress.

But the theater says it's again losing money every month and needs another bailout.

It's a beautiful theater, but beautiful doesn't pay the bills. The Fox Tucson Theatre struggles to make money and some taxpayers want to know why.

"I think people are fed up.  We had $230 million disappear and now we have an FBI investigation.  Why should we stop now?  Why would we let the Fox Theatre continue to do business behind closed doors where no one knows what's going on," said Ally Miller from the Pima County Tea Party Patriots.

Simply put, the Fox Theatre Foundation says they can't pay up. The problem with that is they owe the district $7.4 million. Another $1.5 million is due this September.

"There's just no ability to pay this now or ever," said the Fox Foundation Chairman a month ago.

In response, the Pima County Tea Party patriots wrote a letter to the board, Demanding transparency.

Over 200 Tucsonans signed a petition, to get a good look at the Fox Theatre's finances.

"It still hasn't happened.  We went down to the meeting on May 5.  There was not a rep. from Fox Theatre Foundation in sight, and they have not turned down books to the board," said Miller.

The Fox Theatre has a complicated history. It was renovated, reopened, leased out, but has lost millions of dollars since 2007.

"Most of us didn't know about this, we're trying to find out more about it," said Rio Nuevo board member Jonathan Paton.

New board member Paton says the new board has taken steps to open the Fox's books.

He says they understand taxpayer frustration, but it should be aimed at the right group.

"They should be very angry at the City of Tucson for putting us in this position," said Paton.

The Tea Party patriots say there's plenty of blame to go around.

"Things should not be cloaked in secrecy.  We're tired of it, and we're going to continue to go to these meetings," said Miller.

Calls for comment to the Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation were not returned.

The Rio Nuevo board is tentatively scheduled to meet again on May 19.