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Covelli vendor now nixes buyout option

Published: Tue, May 24, 2011 @ 12:08 a.m.


Youngstown Deputy Director of Finance Kyle L. Miasek

By David Skolnick



Centerplate, the food-and-beverage vendor at the Covelli Centre, is no longer willing to take a buyout to end its contract with the city because of concerns that Youngstown could sign a deal with a competitor.

JAC Management, the firm that manages the day-to-day operations of the center, proposed last month taking over the food-and-beverage contract — a move supported by the city administration.

But city council members said a decision this important shouldn’t be rushed. They were hesitant to give JAC the contract because the company has never handled food-and-beverage operations at a facility the size of Covelli, and they also wanted to give other businesses a chance to submit proposals.

In an email to Eric Ryan, the head of JAC and the center’s executive director, Gregory Fender, a Centerplate senior vice president, wrote: “We have no desire to see one of our competitors take over this contract nor do we intend to further negotiate the buyout of our investment. Based upon your decision to change the previously agreed upon terms, Centerplate is not prepared to enter into the draft statement agreement which shall now be deemed null and void.”

City Deputy Finance Director Kyle Miasek told council’s finance committee Monday that based on “the tone of the discussions between the city administration and council, as was conveyed by The Vindicator, [Centerplate] felt that based on their view, not our view, that they felt that this was not something that they wanted to continue” to negotiate.

City officials have sought for years to get out of the deal that gives Centerplate exclusivity over the sale of food and beverages at the Youngstown-owned center. The 10-year contract expires September 2015.

Centerplate officials recently agreed to accept a buyout of the rest of its contract — about $460,000 — if JAC took over the food-and-beverage operations.

“We, as a policy, make it a point to never walk away from our contracts and we were only willing to do so here because we were led to believe you were going to run the operation in-house,” Fender wrote to Ryan.

The company made that decision “based upon the low level of attendance and the number of events we have had at the Covelli Centre and the challenge we have all had over the last five years making our projected return on our investment” Fender wrote.

Centerplate “didn’t let us consider it,” said Councilman DeMaine Kitchen, D-2nd. “I don’t know where we went wrong.”

The center received $194,563 from the sale of food and beverages last year.

City administrators and Ryan had projected an annual increase in revenues by $100,000 if JAC took over because it would give a higher percentage of its profits to the center and sell food and beverages at all events at the facility, something Centerplate doesn’t do.

There is a “very slim possibility” Centerplate would reconsider leaving if JAC is put in charge of food and beverages at the center, Miasek said.

“I don’t know if this can be moved to fruition based on this letter,” he said. “We can reach out to them if council agrees.”

None of the four council members at Monday’s meeting gave the go-ahead to Miasek.


1Photoman(1223 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

It's what we do here---if something's working, screw with it until it stops working.

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2demaink(4 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

I never go on here to post.. However, aftter reading this article, I felt the need to correct a misquote of the writer of this article. I'm not sure what meeting he attended but it was not the meeting that we had yesterday. My comments were directed towards the finance dept and not centerplate. He took a quote out of context and built a story around it. I must say it was creative and brilliant how he took my words and placed them into an arrangement suitable for his faulty reporting. See you next meeting dave. :-)

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3DavidSkolnick(57 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago


I don't comment much here either, but that wasn't a misquote. Perhaps you didn't mean to say what you did, but you said it in the discussion on the Centerplate issue.

Yes, you were talking to Kyle Miasek, the city's deputy finance director. But you were talking about the Centerplate email when you made the comments above as well as saying, "I'm not understanding where the door was closed."

Thanks for the "brilliant" comment.

I'll see you next meeting, DeMaine. :)

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4demaink(4 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for your response. However, my comment to Kyle was that no one on council said "no" to doing it in house. We only said bid it out to see what the best deal is.
I went on to say that if out of the three bids,JAC was the best, then let them do it.
So, contrary to what you wrote, my comments about "not letting us consider it" and "where we went wrong" were misplaced.
P.S. You're welcome for the "brilliant" comment..lol
I won't post again until next year:-)

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5One_Who_Stayed(240 comments)posted 4 years, 11 months ago

It would be truly brilliant if our illustrious city council would one day realize that the only person or entity that has done any good for the Covelli center at all is Eric Ryan. . .

When he says that he can do something, his track record also says that he can. When the company from Phoenix was hemorrhaging away money by the ton, city council did nothing but sit and watch.

Now that someone who has turned the place around wants to further enhance the facility (and make the city a bit more money in the process BTW) our favorite Monday Morning quarterbacks (city council) have jumped in and decided that we need to screw around with this decision for another year or so. Talk about it - make some back-room deals - get some bids - blah blah blah blah. Well - nice going numb nuts. . . the company has now realized that, for all their whining about return on their investment, they still are making money and should sit right where they are.

This is yet another shining example of why this stupid ass city council needs to be:

1. Restructured to accurately reflect this city and its desires (not turf wars between little fife-doms)


2. Each existing member of it needs to be replaced with someone capable of thinking things through, not just parroting this bureaucratic crap that we've heard from them too many times in the past.

We need intelligent leadership. . . not ass-covering and posturing.

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