Thursday, November 10, 2016
By KALEA HALL
Boots hit the pavement when a country music act comes to town, leading Youngstown to be a prime stop for many top country performers.
Now, one local guy has the opportunity to be an integral part of the country-music scene nationwide.
On Friday, Eric Ryan, executive director of the Covelli Centre, will find out if he’s been selected for the Country Music Association’s board of directors.
“From a contact standpoint and notoriety standpoint, it would be positive,” Ryan said. “It would be exciting to be on that board with so many people in the entertainment industry.”
Ryan was nominated for the position by Rob Beckham, a partner at the William Morris Endeavor Entertainment LLC and board member. The company specializes in talent representation; commercial marketing and endorsements; brand strategy, activation and licensing; media production and distribution; and event management.
“He represents the artists and books the shows,” Ryan said.
Beckham could not speak about the nomination because it is ongoing.
Others who received the prestigious nomination are executives at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., and the MGM Las Vegas Hotel.
The CMA board of directors formed in 1959. It is filled with musicians, entertainment executives, music marketers and talent agents.
“If I would be on this it would be a huge honor,” Ryan said. “I think we have been very successful promoting and hosting major country concerts. Perhaps they have taken notice to what we have done.”
Ryan has been in entertainment since the 1990s. He promoted shows in a Struthers
club he owned and quickly became successful in selling out shows. In 2005, Ryan formed Eric Ryan Productions and began to focus on theater and arena concerts.
In 2007, Ryan formed his company JAC Management Group LLC and was given a contract to operate and manage the city-owned Covelli Centre. It also manages W.D. Packard Music Hall in Warren.
“When we first got here there was no country music,” Ryan said.
Now, Covelli has several country concerts every year. Carrie Underwood, has performed three times and tickets were sold out all three times. Other big country names that have come to Covelli include: Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town, Darius Rucker, Sugarland, Eric Church, Kid Rock and Miranda Lambert.
“Country certainly is hot right now, and it really reaches out to all ages and demographics of people,” Ryan said. “We kind of felt there was a market here for country music fans, and it has proven to be true.”
Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally said Ryan has been a “great leader” partner in continuing to make the venue see a profit.
Recently, the centre reported a third-quarter operating surplus of $4,040 for its second-strongest July-to-September period. It was also only the third time the facility finished that time period with an operating surplus since it opened in October 2005.
“It’s one of the largest quality-of-life entities in the city,” McNally said of the centre. “It needs to be successful to pay the bills.”