By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
NILES -- The Eastwood Expo Center is being expanded with the addition of an inflatable dome.
Inflation of the 11,000-square-foot addition is tenatively scheduled for Feb. 12.
The Cafaro Co. of Youngstown, which owns the Eastwood complex, said the expansion will allow the expo center to attract larger shows or have multiple shows at the same time. The center has between 40 and 60 shows a year.
The Ohio Gun Collectors Show is coming to the center in June for the first time because of the additional space, said Kevin McGee, Cafaro marketing director. The show, which is open only to members of the gun collectors group, needs a place that can have 700 vendors.
With the dome, the center will have 60,000 square feet of exhibition space. The dome will be connected to the building with a door.
Clearance: Cafaro chose an inflatable dome because of the clearance it provides, McGee said. The dome will be 30 feet tall and 132 feet wide.
McGee said the height of the dome will give the space an open-air feel and will provide room for larger exhibits and an extreme sports show company officials hope to attract.
Construction of a traditional building of that height would have been more expensive, he said. The project is worth about $250,000, he said.
Baragona: Sharing the cost is Baragona Mid America Events of Youngstown, which is one of the companies that promotes events at the expo center. It is the company that puts on the annual rib festival at the mall.
The Mahoning Valley Home and Garden Show, which also is put on by Baragona, will be the first to use the new display space during its show Feb. 22-24.
Cafaro said other events at the dome could be concerts, boxing and indoor soccer matches, large weddings and receptions, and wine tastings.
Construction began Tuesday on the foundation. McGee said the exact date of the inflation will depend on the pace of construction.
Cafaro opened the expo center in 1993 after Busy Beaver Building Centers closed a store in the mall complex.