Youngstown seeks firms to design downtown amphitheater

By David Skolnick


The city is seeking a company for design and architectural work on a proposed amphitheater at the Covelli Centre to be up and running by the latter half of the year.

The city is giving firms interested in the work until 4 p.m. Feb. 14 to submit four copies of a letter of interest to Charles Shasho, deputy director of public works.

City council agreed Dec. 18 to permit the board of control to spend up to $90,000 to hire a consultant to design the outdoor facility.

Though the amount of money the city will spend on this project will be based on a variety of factors, the current estimate is between $2 million and $3 million, said Finance Director David Bozanich.

The city wants to raise money by selling naming rights, seeking state funding and using water and wastewater funds for utility expenses, Bozanich said.

The city expects to have the funding in place for the project by March 31, according to its request for qualifications advertisement.

“We’re trying to get this built this year,” Bozanich said. “We are in the process of assessing values to naming rights for different parts of the amphitheater.”

The facility would be located at the rear of the building, near South Avenue, where employees currently park.

Directly in front of the stage would be a cement or brick plaza with space for about 500 removable chairs for VIPs including major sponsors and those who rent luxury suites inside the Covelli Centre. That area also could fit more people for general-admission concerts with no chairs. There would also be a lawn area behind the VIP section.

The capacity for the outdoor facility has changed. Originally it was about 3,000 to 3,500, but the city’s request for qualifications states the amphitheater would be for about 5,000.

Eric Ryan, the center’s executive director, first proposed an outdoor facility in April 2011, but was met with resistance from city council members.

It was revived last year, primarily to boost the center’s finances during the summer when it books few events. The summer is the slowest time for indoor arenas because people want to be outdoors in the warmer months, Ryan said.

The amphitheater likely would add at least 25 summer events at the center, which has about 100 events annually, Ryan said.

The city borrowed $11.9 million in 2005 for its share of constructing the $45 million center, and after more than eight years has paid less than $900,000 toward that amount.

The center’s final 2013 numbers are expected shortly with the facility on pace to turn a profit — something it did for the first time in 2012.

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