With the Youngstown SteelHounds no longer playing in the Central Hockey League, the 2008-09 season at the Chevrolet Centre is up in the air. If the SteelHounds can't find another league quickly, there will be 32 dates between October and March that will be open — unless arena manager Eric Ryan can work his magic and fill them.
Ryan was a concert promoter in Struthers before Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams and other city officials decided that he was the answer to the city's prayers for the Chevrolet Centre to become a goldmine.
Is it unfair to put the entire burden on Ryan? Perhaps.
So, in a display of community spirit, here are a few suggestions on how to fill the open dates:
1. "Dancing with the skanks." This event has the potential of being as successful as Dancing with the Stars. With the economic recession, Youngstown's hookers are barely making a living. They deserve a break. The city should invite them to participate in a dance contest, with current and former public officials, such as former employees of the Ohio Attorney General's Office, serving as their partners. As the case of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer showed, officeholders have a way with ladies of the night.
2. "Cage fighting." The popularity of the television series suggests that the Youngstown events would be a hit — because of what they would entail. Given the desire of the city's gangbangers to settle their scores with real bullets on the streets of the community, they would be invited to participate in a shootout at the center. Of course, the arena would be enclosed by bullet-proof glass to protect the spectators. The gangbangers would be placed inside the enclosure all at the same time, and would be given a signal to start shooting. The last man standing — if there is one — would be declared the winner of that round. Given the number of gun-toting criminals in the city, there would have to be several rounds, before the ultimate winner is declared. The prize: his criminal record would be wiped clean.
3. "Regional World Poker Tournament contests." This region's gambling roots run deep, thanks to the Mafia, and there is no reason that Valley residents who grew up as numbers runners or rolling the dice in alleyway, or even playing poker and blackjack during casino nights hosted by Catholic churches should be deprived of showing off their skills. The local tournaments would have to be sanctioned by the WPT.
4. "Polka, polka, polka." Enough said.
These are just a few of the events that would attract thousands of area residents to downtown Youngstown.
There must other suggestions out there that would help Eric Ryan as he tries to fill the 32 dates. Send them in.