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Youngstown will seek financial commitments before designing and building an amphitheater



Published: Thu, December 19, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The city will seek financial commitments toward the design and construction of a proposed amphitheater at the Covelli Centre before starting the project, Finance Director David Bozanich said.

The city will spend the next two to three months seeking funding from the private sector, foundations and the state, and plans to use some of its water and wastewater funds for the project, he said.

About a half-dozen “community-oriented people” have had preliminary discussions with city officials to discuss funding for the amphitheater, including the selling of naming rights, Bozanich said.

The amount of money raised will determine the size of the project, he said.

He estimated the cost of building an outdoor facility at $1 million to $2 million.

“If we come up with $1.5 million in financial commitments, then that’s what we’ll build,” Bozanich said. “The scope of the project depends on how much we raise.”

City council approved legislation Wednesday to allow the board of control to spend about $90,000 to hire a firm for design and engineering work on the proposed amphitheater.

Engineering is typically around 6 percent of a project’s total cost, Bozanich said. If the city spends $90,000, it would be for a $1.5 million facility.

Some council members expressed concern about the ordinance language with the $90,000 estimate rather than permitting the board of control to spend up to that amount.

While no one on council sought to change the legislation’s language, Bozanich said the administration wouldn’t exceed that amount without permission from the legislative body.

“If we find out it will be more, we’ll come back,” Bozanich told council. “We want to work with you and have your cooperation.”

The amphitheater would include a permanent stage, a cement or brick plaza in front for about 500 removable chairs for VIPs or for more people without the chairs, and lawn seating for about 2,500 to 3,000.

Also discussed Wednesday was the possibility of recreational facilities such as a water spray fountain, a park area, a bike trail and efforts to take advantage of the center’s proximity to the Mahoning River.

“There’s a lot of potential here” for a successful amphitheater, said Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th.

The city borrowed $11.9 million in 2005 to pay its portion of constructing the $45 million center. The city has paid less than $900,000 toward the principal.

The amphitheater is needed to increase business at the indoor arena during the summer months, the slowest time of the year for the facility, city administrators said.

If built, the amphitheater would be used about 25 times during the summer months. The center has about 100 events annually.

“We’ll use it for two to three months a year, but it will have a significant impact,” Bozanich said.


Comments

1AndJusticeForAll(16 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Here we go again with Skolnick’s slanted journalism. I really have to hold him to task on this one, first, because he thinks he’s become a part of city council. It’s remarkable that over time, Skolnick has been given a place at the same table as department heads, council members, and the mayor when city council convenes its meetings. Skolnick’s apparent parity with council has clouded his vision and similar ability to provide unbiased journalism. When he writes these articles, he sounds more like another city politician trying to sell Youngstown residents snake oil.
What Skolnick’s article excludes are the gross exaggerations or misrepresentations by Sammarone and Bozanich. Sammarone was in rare form trying to sell the idea that the city would be making money, hand over fist, through concession sales if the amphitheater is built in the city. Such a mindset is counter intuitive to what the function of local government should be. In addition, the largest premise when city leaders first jumped on board to build the Youngstown Convocation Center was to produce a major downtown revitalization of Youngstown. That this convocation center, now the Covelli Centre, hasn’t been the impetus for a major downtown revitalization should give everyone pause before forging ahead with an amphitheater. Bozanich also just flat out provided, hmmm, lies? No, I’ll just call them gross misrepresentations. Bozanich was touting how much the Covelli Centre was worth in dollars and cents. However, we didn’t see any big presentation at last night’s council meeting that supports his affirmation that the Centre is worth more than $60 million. I have to ask if Boaznich even knows how to calculate the net worth of the Covelli Centre. Its historical cost is somewhere between $42 and $45 million dollars. We would know its true historical cost if Bozanich ever made that report public. We also don’t know how Bozanich is depreciating the building. But, let’s say it’s over fifty years (unrealistic, but for the sake of argument). The building has already depreciated almost $8 million. Its net worth is nowhere near $60 million.
Here are the other things missing from Skolnick’s article: Skolnick glaringly fails to provide what impact the building of an amphitheater would have on other surrounding similar entertainment centers. The first that comes to mind is the one in Warren and the Morley Pavilion in the Metro Park. Skolnick fails to recognize that naming rights for an amphitheater would be significantly less than the $360,000 Panera paid for the Covelli Centre. Even if the amphitheater garnered $360,000 (highly unlikely), just what in heaven’s name does Bozanich think we can build with that?!

(continued)

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2AndJusticeForAll(16 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

(continued from above)

Aside from Skolnick helping the city sell snake oil, I truly have to marvel at how dimwitted council members are. We have Mike Ray (purportedly uses his grandparents’ address to be a city council member) who thinks the amphitheater is a great idea. He professes to be a businessman. Yet, clump him with the rest of council members and Sammarone, and all I can see is a bunch of idiots throwing darts at a board trying to revitalize the city of Youngstown at taxpayers’ expense. Mike Ray can’t even get Schenley Avenue paved. Bozanich was throwing at all these ideas about a park, connections to the Metro Park with a bike trail. People are still scared to come into Youngstown because of high crime. All of these assertions are unrealistic, don’t include any kind of thought out economic development rationale, and, in the end, will only end up costing city taxpayers millions of dollars. Last night’s council meeting and ratification of $90,000 for consulting fees was more like witnessing a crap shoot at the craps table with Skolnick helping out by throwing the dice.

How much more inane can city politics get?

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3Ytownnative(1008 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Didn't the county commissioner just approve massive hikes in sewer rates and just got done with a massive hike in water rates to improve the sewage and water pipes in the area? And now its going to the covelli center? I feel robbed and betrayed.

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4Exaurdon(6 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

"Youngstown will seeks", is this like the Vindicator will seeks copy editor?

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5Southside_Res(165 comments)posted 6 months, 3 weeks ago

@Exaurdon:

An English teacher, eh? Had me laughing anyway... Guess the literary prowess of the Vindicator has waned with the years...

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