Chevy sign heads west

By David Skolnick

A Nevada car dealer with Valley ties bought the logo for $4,000.

YOUNGSTOWN — The 6-foot-by-15-foot Chevrolet bow-tie sign that hung on the exterior of the city-owned event center for more than three years is heading to a car dealership in “The Biggest Little City in the World” — thanks to The Vindicator.

The lone bid for the sign came from former Mahoning Valley resident Jack Stanko Sr., president and owner of Champion Chevrolet in Reno, Nev. He offered $4,000, the minimum amount the city was willing to take for the sign in an online auction.

Stanko said he learned about the sign’s being for sale from his sister, Barbara Gunter of Austintown, who sent him a copy of an Aug. 14 article in The Vindicator about the city’s plan to sell it.

Brandon Bucar, the center’s assistant director and its director of facilities, also thanked the newspaper for the sale.

While Stanko has never attended an event at what’s now known as the Covelli Centre, he said he’ll think of his former hometown when he sees the bow-tie sign at his dealership.

“We thought it would be pretty neat to have,” Stanko said. “It’s a little memorabilia of the Chevrolet Centre. I have a good place for it.”

It will be mounted inside the dealership’s service department.

The bow tie came off the exterior of the former Chevrolet Centre in May when Covelli Enterprises signed a three-year deal to rename the facility the Covelli Centre. Covelli is paying $120,000 annually for the naming rights to the arena.

Because of steep financial losses in a struggling economy, General Motors didn’t renew its contract for the naming rights when a three-year deal expired Sept. 30, 2008. But the center kept the Chevrolet name and the bow tie until May, shortly after Covelli signed a naming-rights deal with the city.

GM paid $175,000 in cash annually and provided four vehicles a year to the city for the naming rights.

With no use for the sign, city and center officials attempted to sell it with no success.

Bucar said in August that he expected the sign to sell for $6,000 to $10,000 — if the right buyer came along.

“In today’s market, $4,000 is a fair number,” he said Monday. “They’re responsible for the shipping and crating. That’s about $900 to $1,200, so $4,000 isn’t bad.”

Stanko said he has no idea if $4,000 is a good or bad price for the sign; he’s just happy he’s getting it.

The sign should be at Stanko’s dealership in about a week.

Stanko, born and reared in Youngstown, is a graduate of the former South High School and Youngstown State University. He served as general manager of the former State Chevrolet dealership on Wick Avenue from 1970 to 1982.

When State went out of business, Stanko served as general manager of a Chevy dealership in Albuquerque, N.M., for six years. He purchased the Reno dealership in 1988. His son, Jack Stanko Jr., is Champion’s vice president and general manager. Stanko Sr.’s wife, Betty, is the dealership’s customer sales manager.

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