Airport Drive-In

2260 Airport Road,
Johnson City, NY 13790

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Airport Drive-In

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The Airport Drive-In opened in 1961, to replace the Front Drive-In which was torn down to build I-81. The drive-in was located on Airport Road, just below the Broome County Airport. It held 1,001 cars.

Loews moved me to the Binghamton area in 1990, and the Airport Drive-In was limping. I was able to convince my Division Manager to let me revamp the Drive-In—we made it second-run, at a carload price, and did several successful promotions with Wendy’s and an area radio station. We were a hit, and the drive-in pushed on for another three years. We were able to repaint the screen, install FM sound (the AM would cut out when a plane flew overhead!), paint the buildings, and mow down the last 10 or so ramps, which hadn’t been used in years. We actually sold out on a few occasions-one time even delaying flights out of the airport because of the traffic (two lane road)!

After the summer of 1993, Loews opened the Town Square multiplex in nearby Vestal, and we lost the lease on the drive-in because we would not renew two of the single-screen ‘hardtops’ (Cinema Endicott and Towne Theatre Endicott) that the landlord owned. They would not allow us to just lease the drive-in. So the Airport sat, fully equipped and ready to open for the season, for about five years before it was demolished!! Of course, vandals moved in…

Contributed by Joe Masher

Recent comments (view all 19 comments)

NYozoner on January 13, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Lowes did not build this drive-in, they “inherited” it as they swallowed up smaller theatre chains throughout the 80s and 90s. Drive-ins sometimes came along with the deal, and the chains would treat them like a red-headed step child, milking them for years without putting money back into the operations. By the time they were done, the drive-in would be run down to the point where nobody would want to operate it, and the only practical course of action was redevelopment.

The Airport was a classic case of owner/operator negligence, as this drive-in was far enough on the outskirts of town that it could still be open and thriving today. The site is now a big hole in the ground, as the property has been put to use as a drainage retention area. Thank you UA/Lowes.

DavidWallick on March 23, 2011 at 1:48 am

I saw a great double feature of Revenge of the Nerds and Porky’s Revenge here in 1985 — a perfect couple of drive-in flicks!

Silicon Sam
Silicon Sam on March 23, 2011 at 2:54 am

Updated Aerial link HERE

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on April 7, 2011 at 12:15 am

Story with so many drive-ins,NYozoner.Loews probably never BUILT a Drive-in Theatre.

TLSLOEWS on July 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Not true Mike,Loews built several drive-ins in Florida.

adamghost on August 26, 2013 at 2:48 am

The first place I ever…um…batted a triple!

Kris4077 on October 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm

OOH a cheerleader double feature!!!!

lalainthelibrary on February 25, 2014 at 9:41 pm

I saw a Planet of the Apes series “Dusk ‘til Dawn” marathon here with my first serious boyfriend. I think it was probably the first ever drive-in I went to with my parents (there was also a drive-in in nearby Vestal). I remember seeing the MGM lion roaring and then nothing else because I fell asleep. It was my son’s first and last drive-in experience. He was a baby, so he fell asleep also! The drive-in closed soon after that.

A friend of mine lives near Nashville, Tenn., and in Murffesboro they are building a new drive-in theater, slated to open in August of this year.

lalainthelibrary on February 26, 2014 at 5:47 am

I remember reading a newspaper article around the time of its closure about it not being worth fighting to keep open because of rowdyism and crime going on, such as the sale of drugs, in it’s later days. I do remember not wanting to return there after our last visit because of all the “thug” types wandering around. This would have been 1992 or 1993.

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