The arena board will consider hiring the law firm at its Thursday meeting.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The arena board's personnel committee is recommending the full body hire Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan and Aronoff, a law firm with offices in Cleveland and Columbus, as the agency's legal counsel.
The committee made the decision today after closed-door meetings with officials from that firm and Harrington, Hoppe and Mitchell of Youngstown, the other finalist for the position.
"This firm had the edge and the most to offer," said Bill Binning, chairman of the board's personnel committee and head of the Youngstown State University political science department, about the Benesch firm.
The personnel committee's recommendation will be considered by the arena board at its Thursday meeting.
The cost and length of the contract with the Benesch firm will be negotiated by the board's finance committee if the company is hired by the board, Binning said.
Importance: The selection of a law firm is a vital step toward the construction of a downtown Youngstown arena, Binning said. The arena board is overseeing the development of the arena, which will be built with a $26 million federal grant and possible private funding.
"We have not been willing to enter into contracts without having legal counsel," he said. "The project should move more quickly once the board approves our recommendation."
Once hired, the Benesch firm will help the arena board hire a management firm for the civic center, Binning said.
About the firm: The Benesch firm has more than 120 attorneys, and one of its areas of expertise is sports management. The company also provides legal counsel to the Youngstown Business Incubator.
Besides the Benesch and Harrington firms, the arena board received applications from Manchester, Bennett, Powers and Ullman of Youngstown and Alden Chevlen of Youngstown, a lawyer and director of the city's downtown development agency.