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« Stirfry

Who will cover Chevy Centre shortfall?

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)


Published April 18, 2009

Whether it’s a hockey team affiliated with the CHL, ECHL, USHL, NHL or whatever the ‘L’, turning a profit at the Youngstown-owned Chevrolet Centre is a challenge. That’s because hockey isn’t in the Mahoning Valley’s sports DNA.

Thus, the question Youngstown residents (the opinions of suburbanites don’t really count) are asking: At a time of imploding city government budgets — a $3 million shortfall in the general fund this fiscal year is very much a possibility — is spending on the sports/entertainment center a priority?

Indeed, $600,000 a year is already being drained from the general fund to pay the interest only on the $12 million city government borrowed to finance its share of the $45 million project cost. (When former Mayor George M. McKelvey publicly pledged that not one dime of general fund money would go toward the arena, he was telling the truth. It isn’t one dime, it’s many, many, many dimes.)

If the city were flush financially, if most of the residents were income-tax payers and weren’t retired or on welfare, and if police officers were not in danger of being laid off, funneling public dollars into the Chevy Centre wouldn’t be a problem.

But in a city where homicides and other serious crimes are regular occurrences and where once stable neighborhoods are now dotted with boarded up houses, the arena is a luxury.

As city government finalizes negotiations for a USHL team to play at the center, the question of who will cover any operational deficits is worthy of discussion.

And, as part of the discussion, the issue of a countywide tax dedicated to the Chevy Centre must be broached — especially by suburbanites who are convinced that hockey can become a popular sport in this football region.

While quality of life is important for the viability of a community, in a city like Youngstown protecting life must take precedence.

Establishing spending priorities in the midst of a budget crisis requires decision-makers to put residents’ safety before all else.


Comments

1cozmo(32 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Add it to the bailout list. Why not?

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2jethead11(139 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

How about the UAW. Their logo is on the Lordstown sign, so why not on the Chevy Centre. Oh that's right, the UAW just takes, takes, takes, never gives. My bad.

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3horace(4 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for pointing out that the priorities of the city administration are out of line. Protecting citizens must be a top priority. If it comes between entertainment and police, choose police! The city is servicing the Chevy Centre for all its repairs and contracting services to companies for big money! This should be looked at when we talk budget problems.

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4houndsfan(68 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Global stopped paying the 600k, thats what started the process to throw them out. Also I would have to believe any losses reported are in addition to the 600k. Just my opinion from what I have read.

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5Erplane(482 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Why cant the city sell the Chevy Center to YSU for $12,000,001? YSU would have to get capital budget approval to do so, but then YSU can consolidate the Beghley Center usage into the Chevy?

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6cityguy(109 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Bert, Gotta hand it to you on this one. I agree with your consistent stance that this was huge mistake from the get-go and the inflated purchase price of the land and the location, which frankly stinks if the goal is to encourage foot traffic. Municipalities have no business in the entertainment venue business. Personally I like your earlier idea of selling the place for a casino!

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7Erplane(482 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

The casino idea is not a bad one at all. Imagine if that $25M gift from the feds was used to promote downtown business development.

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8AustintownPenguin(27 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Well how bout if they built a casino on the other side of the market street bridge, then they could use the chevy centre for their big events. I would really like to have a casino in youngstown, more people would go there then drive to west virginia or niagara falls.

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