Varsity Drive-In

42501 U.S. 70,
Portales, NM 88130

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Commonwealth Theaters Corp., Frontier Theatres, Theater Enterprises Inc.

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The Varsity Drive-In sat on the NE side of the town and was opened by Theatre Enterprises on April 9, 1950. By 1955 it was operated by R.I. Payne of Frontier Theatres out of Dallas, TX. Later operated by Commonwealth Theatres, it ran through the late-1970’s. However, at some later point was closed and demolished.

Today, the property is an empty field with no trace of the drive-in remaining.

Contributed by Ken McElhaney

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

NYozoner on December 23, 2016 at 3:20 am

There were two drive-ins in Portales, both of them on US-70. One was southwest of town, the other was northeast of town. It is not clear which one was the Varsity, or what the name of the other drive-in was. Both drive-ins appear on topo maps from 1958 to 1976. Maybe someone local to the area can offer some more information.

MichaelKilgore on December 6, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Boxoffice, April 15, 1950: “PORTALES, N. M. – Theatre Enterprises opened the new Varsity Drive-In on Elinda (sic) Highway here Easter Sunday (April 9 that year). The theatre will accommodate 250 cars, according to Russell Ackley, manager. The drive-in was completed last fall, but no pictures were shown due to the lateness of the season.”

Elida NM is 25 miles southwest of Portales on US 70, so it must have been the drive-in on the southwest side of town.

MichaelKilgore on March 27, 2022 at 11:31 am

The 1955-56 Theatre Catalog also listed the Varsity’s address as “Elinda (sic?) Highway”. The consistent misspelling would concern me, but NE 70 would have been the Clovis Highway and SE 70 was very probably the Elida Highway, named for the next significant town down the road. Anyway, assuming the Varsity was southwest of Portales, its address should be 1805 W 2nd St, where a Super 8 motel is today. I’ve uploaded a photo with a south-facing screen; photos of the northwest-facing screen from the northeast side of town should be moved to the Crawley’s Drive-In page.

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