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Pima County Supervisors approve new Old Tucson operator lease

The Pima County Board of Supervisors approved American Heritage Railways to take over as operator of Old Tucson Studios.
Posted at 12:46 PM, Apr 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 16:20:18-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Pima County Board of Supervisors approved American Heritage Railways to take over as operator of Old Tucson Studios.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the board approved the five-year lease.

Old Tucson, which opened in 1939, shut down in 2020 when its former owners told Pima County they would terminate their lease.

“Old Tucson Studios has so much rich history that needs to be preserved and shared with the world,” said John Harper, Chief Operating Officer of Old Tucson Entertainment, in a statement. “We look forward to working with production companies to provide a real western town experience in an amazing location that has all the characteristics any company is looking for.”

Pima County Attractions and Tourism Director Diane Frisch, said in a statement that she hoped the move would reignite Tucson's film industry.

“This marks an exciting new phase in Old Tucson’s storied legacy,” said Frisch. “We are so excited to see this enormous economic driver for our region brought back to its full glory, and are confident American Heritage Railways is the company to help make that happen.”

The Halloween-themed festival Nightfall will return this year, followed by a winter holiday event.

RELATED: The future of Old Tucson will showcase the past

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Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star, where he was a movie critic, columnist, and reporter. He has penned three books: Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, Stormin' Mormon and Zeta Male. A University of Arizona business graduate, he has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing phil.villarreal@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.