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WARREN Panel aims to boost music hall income



Published: Tue, June 26, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The city is to decide whether it will help to fund the music hall for the rest of the year.

By AMANDA C. DAVIS

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Improvements planned at Packard Music Hall will cost $9 million.

And although officials have not said where the money will come from, they are planning to boost revenue by creating a nonprofit foundation, obtaining a liquor license and building a box office.

Atty. Charles Ohlin said his firm, Bluedorn & amp; Ohlin, has agreed to help trustees obtain nonprofit status for a foundation they hope will boost revenues. He said the work will be done for free.

He addressed a committee Monday that consisted of Packard Band trustees and musicians and the dean of Kent State University Trumbull Campus.

Ohlin, a National Packard Museum trustee, said the museum could possibly pair with the music hall to look at other options if a liquor license is not available.

Ticket sales: Christopher Stephenson, music hall manager, said he's received a couple of quotes for the box office and expects it will cost a little more than $30,000 to build.

A box office would allow the music hall to sell tickets for local events.

If the hall teamed up with an agency such as TicketMaster, it could sell tickets for regional and even national events, Stephenson said.

Dr. David Allen, dean of KSUTC, said he wants to talk with the board about a possible partnership between the music hall and campus.

He commended the two firms contracted to help with the plan -- Olsavsky-Jaminet Architects of Youngstown and ArtSpace Design Ltd. of Newark.

What needs fixing: Jeffrey Gress, an ArtSpace consultant, said total building costs for the auditorium would be $2.06 million.

He said trustees face tremendous liability if they don't replace rigging systems above the stage, which are worn because of misuse.

Other proposals include repairs to the auditorium floor, roof and side loading dock; moving offices around; and installing an elevator and making other improvements to meet requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Improvements are planned for the electrical systems, and renovations will be made inside and outside the building. The auditorium's acoustics will be improved.

Architect Douglas Abbatiello said he thinks upgrading is in line with what community leaders said they wanted during two recent meetings.

Rules: Concerns over building-code compliance include too few toilets in women's bathrooms and issues of accessibility, Abbatiello said.

State building codes have changed since the music hall was built in the 1950s, the architect said, and in 2002, a new building code will be instituted.

Trustees and the committee were charged with devising a plan for self-sufficiency.

The city said it would kick in $75,000 for the first half of this year and another $75,000 if the plan is agreed upon.

Packard officials will update council's finance committee on the plan during a 4 p.m. meeting Thursday.

Stephenson said he'll detail short-term goals, present an annual report and give ideas for what the hall can do immediately to increase revenue. He stressed that Packard officials are not asking the city for $9 million.

Linda Metzendorf, a Packard trustee, said she's comfortable that the plan is solid enough to persuade council to help fund the hall for the rest of the year.

Since voters passed an income tax increase in May to boost safety services, Packard officials said they hope the city can afford to chip in more.

davis@vindy.com




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