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Youngstown to put South Fieldhouse up for sale

Interests in South Fieldhouse range from athletics to entertainment

YOUNGSTOWN — The city plans to seek proposals in the next 60 days to sell the long-shuttered South Fieldhouse and a little-used football field nearby.

“We’ve been getting a lot of calls from people interested in the fieldhouse,” said Dawn Turnage, the city’s parks and recreation director. “We’ll ask for requests for proposals, and then from there we will see what the interest is. We’ll gauge the benefits to the community of the plans we could get.”

The city had two open houses for those interested in the sports complex on Erie Street on the South Side on Sept. 29 and Oct. 20, 2021.

The open houses were in response to several calls of interest in the facility, she said.

But none of the people who toured the complex had any follow-up questions, Turnage said.

Councilman Julius Oliver, who has the complex in his ward, said: “I’m extremely happy there’s been a lot of interest shown in it. There are viable candidates with plans to bring it back not just for the historic value, but also for the community. I’m confident that one of the (proposals) will be picked.”

There is interest to use the fieldhouse as a sports complex or as an entertainment venue for smaller acts similar to Packard Music Hall in Warren, said Oliver, D-1st Ward.

“It’s a nice size venue,” he said. “Some want to use it as a secondary venue to the Covelli Centre (which the city owns) for concerts. Hopefully a developer can revitalize the neighborhood.”

The football field has garnered interest from local schools for use as football or soccer fields, Oliver said.

“The complex is a great facility with a lot of parking,” he said.

The city has attempted unsuccessfully to sell the property a number of times over the years.

The fieldhouse has been closed for about 15 years while Valley Christian School uses the field for football practices and some games.

The city had a $200,000 deal in place in January 2008 to sell the fieldhouse to Eagle Heights Academy, a charter school that operated and owned the nearby former South High School on Market Street.

But the deal fell through and Eagle Heights shut down after it received an academic emergency rating for two straight years, in 2009 and 2010, from the Ohio Department of Education. Also in 2010, the Ohio auditor’s office determined the school failed to pay $333,722 in federal income tax withholdings and $120,658 in Medicare withholdings.

Oliver said he hoped a developer would also buy the school.

Eagle Heights sold the building in November 2011 for $100,000 to Lumen Southside Realty LLC, which has a mailing address in Independence.

In 2017, a group tried to raise money to rehabilitate the fieldhouse. It raised only $234 through an online effort.

When the fieldhouse opened in 1940, it was used by Youngstown State University, then called Youngstown College, and South High School, which closed in 1993, for basketball games. The fieldhouse had been used for other activities, shows and events.

An appraisal of the property in 2017 estimated it would cost up to $1.5 million to renovate the fieldhouse with asbestos abatement, repairing the roof and replacing the electric system being the most expensive parts of the improvement. The city likely would need to get an updated appraisal of the property in order to sell it.

dskolnick@vindy.com

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