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.