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Amphitheater seeks to grow shows in ’20

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre opened June 14, providing an outdoor venue for shows and events in the city’s downtown.

Going forward in 2020, Jordan Ryan, executive director of Covelli Centre and the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre, said the area can look forward to “similar-type” artists that were welcomed in 2019.

“Hopefully we can have a few more” shows due to a full season, he added.

Artists that performed during the first season included Chicago, Brett Eldredge, Rob Thomas, and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Operated by JAC Management Group, the facility is located inside the Raymond John Wean Foundation Park.

The complex is on property that included the former Wean United Building, which was demolished in 2014.

The amphitheater is the centerpiece of the 22-acre park near the Mahoning River from the South Avenue Bridge to just west of Hazel Street.

The amphitheater has a capacity of about 5,000 — 3,000 in the lawn, 1,500 more in a seating area in front of the stage and another 500 in the VIP area.

The project cost $8 million to build.

The city borrowed $4 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and received the rest of the money from the sale of naming rights to build the facility.

The city will repay the HUD loan over 20 years starting in 2020. With interest, those annual payments are $205,180.

Four founding partners helped make the amphitheater come to fruition: The Youngstown Foundation, Raymond John Wean Foundation, Huntington Bank and Home Savings Bank.

Low-cost and possibly free programming are part of the Home Savings Community Event Series, Ryan said.

“Operationally, we feel 2019 was a success. We hope to build upon that in 2020,” Ryan said.

Financially, there were challenges during the first year. About $170,000 in start-up costs were used from the facility’s operating budget to open it, paying for items such as kitchen equipment, signs, legal fees, food and beverage expenses, additional payroll and landscaping work.

afox@tribtoday.com

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