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Have we forgotten how to celebrate a winner here in Youngstown?

Published: Sun, February 8, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Todd Franko (Contact)

I keep wondering that as we move to less than two weeks until what is likely one of the coolest events we’ll see for years to come.

Kelly Pavlik is bringing a world title fight to the Chevy Centre.




It has never happened in Youngs-town.

It happened in Struthers. It happened in Warren.

But not in Youngstown.

Yet it is here. And the only people who seem to be working hard at making it a special event are the ones you’d expect to rise up when large crowds gather – bars, restaurants and hotels.

Heck, we’re among that group.

The Vindicator will sell a few more papers. We’re producing two special sections with special advertising. We’ll have a poster. We’ll have special online content.

But I would offer that beyond rising up for our own direct business interests, we’ve invested a lot of energy to find ways to help make the event a showcase for the Valley.

And that is where I’m concerned.

The folks whose job it is — ultimately — to showcase the city and the Valley are no-shows to this point.

The city of Youngstown?

Mahoning County?

Boardman Township — where the hotels will host most of the pre-fight activity.

As previously stated, this will be the biggest event the city and the Valley have seen in years. My assumption is that it will be the biggest one for some time to come.

I had phone and e-mail conversations last week with people from the Mahoning Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau and also the city of Youngstown’s events crew.

I want to be polite here. I enjoyed the exchanges, and aim to be a nice guy, but ...

If those agencies have this kind of an event coming here, and they have as empty of an agenda as they offered last week, then either I want those jobs, or, in an era of government downsizing, those are two jobs that deserve re-evaluation. Perhaps even elimination.

The Visitors Bureau representative mused that there was a possibility they would reach out to the businesses that have signs and encourage them to put Pavlik messages on them. It was well-received back in 2007 when he won the titles.

The city’s rep said that she was working with the downtown bars to learn what they were doing. I suggested that is what the bars are doing. That’s not what the city is doing.

What is the city doing? It can’t lay claim that it owns the Chevy Centre, and thus that’s their role.

Light a building. Present a key. Make a special day. Commit to some banners on the light poles.

We’re all busy with packed agendas in our daily grind. But every so often an event arises that requires folks to push aside the daily grind or work a few extra hours or network with a group that’s not in their normal routine in order to allow great events to rise above the status quo.

I can’t believe it was business as usual during the Super Bowl for officials in the city of Tampa or at the Tampa tourism bureau or with the local county operations.

Feb. 21 is our Super Bowl.

Team Pavlik did its job to deliver to the city a cash cow and a showcase opportunity. That job is over — except to win the fight.

It is the community’s job to ensure this is an event maximized to showcase the greatness of the Valley, and not the rusted buildings that national media chose to showcase during the fall election campaigns.

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