City, Zoldan to seal deal on hockey at Covelli

By David Skolnick

The team’s schedule should be finalized in less than two weeks, its owner said.

YOUNGSTOWN — A final deal with the city is about a week or two away for the Youngstown Phantoms hockey team to play its 30 regular-season home games at the Covelli Centre.

The deal was supposed to be signed by now.

As for the delay, both sides say there are a few “minor” reasons.

U Vacations delayed final negotiations.

U They’re still discussing monetary issues, specifically revenue from advertising rights and how money would be split for certain seats.

U Lawyers need to finalize the legal language of the contract.

But city officials and Bruce Zoldan, owner of the United States Hockey League team, say the deal should be finalized shortly.

“There is nothing of concern” that would impact the deal, said Bruce Zoldan, owner of the USHL team. “I’m expecting a contract with the city to be signed sooner than two weeks.”

City Law Director Iris Torres Guglucello said, “There are minor things we haven’t reached an agreement on. We’re not expecting any problems.”

Mayor Jay Williams is also confident a contract will be finalized shortly.

“There’s nothing I know of that would jeopardize this deal,” he said.

The team’s first game is in October. The USHL is the top amateur hockey league in the country.

The team’s management has already moved into offices at the city-owned center, formerly called the Cheverolet Centre, and the Phantoms’ schedule should be done in less than two weeks, Zoldan said.

Around that time, the team will start selling tickets for its games, he said.

The final contract will include a provision allowing the city to end the deal after four years if the Phantoms’ annual attendance is below 60,000, an average of 2,000 a game.

The Phantoms are replacing the Mahoning Valley Phantoms, also an amateur team that played in the North American Hockey League, a lower league, this past season at the center.

The NAHL team had attendance problems, averaging fewer than 1,000 a game.

The price of tickets for the new hockey team hasn’t been finalized, but it should be in the range of $9 to $12 a seat, Zoldan said. The USHL ticket average is $11 to $15, he said.

The NAHL team’s ticket range was $8.50 to $12.50. Toward the latter part of the season, when attendance was typically very poor, the team offered specials as low as $5 a game.

The NAHL team got a late start on marketing and ticket sales last season.

Zoldan and the city didn’t sign a one-year contract until September, a month before the season started.

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