A proposed soccer league wants to play its home games at the Covelli Centre

By David Skolnick



A group trying to get a team into an indoor soccer league asked city officials to provide the $100,000 needed for an entry fee as well as help with the expense of renting the Youngstown-owned Covelli Centre — $8,000 a day for 10 regular-season home games.

After hearing the presentation Monday, city council members and Finance Director David Bozanich recommended the group contact Eric Ryan, executive director of the center, to discuss the proposal. Until then, they were noncommittal.

“I appreciate the enthusiasm, but you first need to go to the Covelli Centre,” Bozanich said.

Councilman John R. Swierz, D-7th, also said, “You need to solidify things with the Covelli Centre and then go to the administration and then come back to council.”

The team — the Youngstown Nighthawks — is looking to play in the Major Arena Soccer League, which currently has 23 teams, as well as an amateur indoor team in the Premier Arena Soccer League.

Edward Holmes, the team’s owner and president, said his group “started with the Covelli Centre and they sent us to” city council.

Ryan said Covelli management has had “very, very basic discussions on this. They have no agreement whatsoever to play their games at the Covelli Centre. A tenant is a major decision that can’t be taken lightly. It’s a lengthy, long due-diligence process. It’s a major decision. They’re putting the cart in front of the horse by going to city council. They’re not playing their home games here. I have no idea what league they’re playing in or any of their plans.”

The team wants a three-year deal with the center, said Joshua Auden, its vice president.

Nighthawks officials gave a presentation that lasted about 30 minutes to city council Monday.

The MASL entry fee is $100,000 with Auden asking city council to pay, and initial costs for the first season would be about $400,000 to $500,000. After the first season, the MASL annual fee is $6,000, he said.

The goal is to bring a professional indoor soccer team to the Covelli Centre, Auden said.

The team expects average attendance at the center per game to be about 4,000, he said.

During its nine-plus years operating, the center has been the home to three different hockey teams and an AF2 [Arena Football League 2] team. None averaged 4,000 in attendance.

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