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CONVOCATION CENTER Out-of-state officials to visit arena



Published: Thu, August 4, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Officials in two cities asked Global how to fund proposed arenas.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The company overseeing the convocation center is bringing officials from Lebanon, Tenn., to Youngstown next week to sell them on a similar facility in their city.

Lebanon Mayor Don Fox will lead a contingent of officials from his city and Wilson County, where Lebanon is located, to the Youngstown convocation center location Aug. 11.

Lebanon city officials were approached by Global Entertainment Corp. a few months ago about constructing an arena with the Phoenix-based company managing and promoting the facility.

The biggest question asked by county leaders is where will the money coming from to build the facility, according to The Lebanon Democrat newspaper.

The Tennessee group will tour the Youngstown facility and meet with the arena's design team as well as local Global and city officials, said Jeff Kossow, the Youngstown arena's executive director.

The Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber is holding an open house for its members and prospective members at the arena the same day as the Tennessee group's visit.

Global isn't offering to help fund the Lebanon project. The company isn't paying anything toward the construction of the Youngstown facility and hasn't offered to provide funding for an arena in Joplin, Mo.

Their own arenas

Joplin City Council approved a letter of intent Tuesday with Global, the first formal step toward having the company's subsidiary, International Coliseums Co., oversee the construction of a 5,000- to 7,000-seat arena, according to The Joplin Globe newspaper.

Again, the big question in Joplin is funding. Kent Oelkers, Global's regional business development director, said the company would help the city determine how to pay for a center, but won't provide any of its money toward the project, the newspaper reported.

There isn't a cost estimate, but the newspaper compared the Joplin proposal with the Youngstown facility. The Youngstown arena is expected to cost as much as $45.38 million, with the city having to borrow as much as $12.1 million to make up a funding gap.

Unlike Youngstown, Joplin and Lebanon aren't expected to receive a $26.8 million grant from the federal government to help off-set construction costs for arenas.

"The other cities will finance the arenas with 80 percent debt and 20 percent equity, while we are funding this with 75 percent equity and 25 percent debt," said David Bozanich, Youngstown finance director.

Global, which controls leases at the Youngstown facility, reported a 196.6 percent revenue increase for its third quarter period, ending Feb. 28, compared with its third quarter from a year prior. The growth was "derived in large part" from project management fees in Youngstown and Rio Rancho, N.M., according to a statement from Richard Kozuback, the company's president.

An attempt to reach Kozuback on Wednesday wasn't successful.

Completion plans

The Youngstown arena construction is ahead of schedule, and the target completion date is the last week of October. Kossow said a concert will be held during that week.

The arena hasn't signed a contract with an act for that concert, Kossow said. However, the arena is in negotiations with a major performer for that date, and is lining up other concerts for the facility's first month, he said.

Official announcements will be made sometime next month on events at the arena when deals are finalized, he said.

However, at least one band is committed to playing at the new arena. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra's official Web site lists a Nov. 13 appearance in Youngstown. TSO, a rock opera band, performed to a sell-out crowd in December 2002 at the Edward W. Powers Auditorium in Youngstown.

Previously announced is Disney on Ice, and the facility will be the home of the Youngstown SteelHounds, a new team in the Central Hockey League and the arena's main tenant with 32 dates. The hockey league is owned by Global. Global officials told city officials in Joplin and Lebanon that they could also get CHL franchises if arenas are built there.

The Youngstown Board of Control was to consider three requests from the arena manager today to approve contracts for the facility.

Global wants to buy a telephone system from Gee Communications of North Brook, Ill., for an amount not to exceed $80,000; security systems from Vector Security of Pittsburgh, with a local office in Youngstown for an amount no greater than $60,000; and curtains and storage hampers for the curtains for $24,682 from Exclusively Expo Inc. of Romeoville, Ill.

skolnick@vindy.com




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