Take a bow, Covelli complex

Arena, amphitheater, park rake in $275,756 surplus, set record in tax income

Approximately 20,000 fans gather at Wean Park on July 29 to hear Kid Rock, Lee Brice and Buckcherry in the 2023 Y-Live Concert. The park is part of the Covelli Centre complex.

YOUNGSTOWN — The city-owned Covelli Centre, Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre and Wean Park had a strong 2023, breaking the record for most money collected from its admission tax and having its sixth-best year in operating revenue.

“It was an awesome year that brought in a significant amount of money,” said Eric Ryan, president of JAC Management Group, which operates the entertainment facilities for the city. “It was a great year to get back on track. We’re very pleased with it and look forward to the first half of this year.”

The city receives a 5.5% admission tax on tickets sold at the three locations.

That tax brought in $355,172 in 2023, according to city Finance Director Kyle Miasek.

More than 25% of it came from the July 29 Y-Live concert at Wean Park featuring Kid Rock, Lee Brice and Buckcherry.

The previous record was $353,625 in 2022, with the Y-Live concert with Luke Bryan at the park accounting for about 25% of the total amount.

Before that, the best year was 2009 with $300,450 with a Kelly Pavlik middleweight boxing title fight being the largest event.

The facilities made more money annually in operating surplus than the admission tax from 2012 to 2019, except for 2017. Since 2020, the tax has generated more money than the operating profits.

The facilities had a $275,756 operating surplus in 2023. It’s the largest surplus since 2019 and the sixth most for a year.

The facilities were budgeted to have a $187,216 surplus for 2023.

The facilities have had an annual surplus since 2009 with $485,234 in 2014 being a record year.

The center opened in October 2005 while the amphitheater opened in June 2019 with the park following later that year.

In addition to nearly 20,000 people at the Y-Live event, there were 12 sold-out concerts last year — eight at the center and four at the amphitheater, Ryan said.

The center’s sellouts were a monster truck event, a World Wrestling Entertainment show, the Youngstown Phantoms championship game and concerts by Cody Johnson, Alice Cooper, Hardy, TobyMac and MercyMe, and Rockzilla featuring Papa Roach and Falling in Reverse.

The amphitheater’s sellout shows were concerts by REO Speedwagon, Parker McCollum, the Doobie Brothers and the Steve Miller Band.

“Country and classic rock acts do really well here and sell out,” Ryan said. “Because of that, they want to keep coming back.”

The year started out with a record-breaking first quarter of $382,334 in operating surplus. The second quarter made a small profit, the third quarter lost a small amount of money and the fourth quarter ended with a $92,513 loss.

“I hate reporting in quarters because it should be looked at as a year and it was a great year,” Ryan said. “We thought we’d have two bigger-sized shows in the fourth quarter that got pushed to this year.”

One of those was a sold-out Sam Hunt show on March 3 at the center, Ryan said.


The city made its final payment Jan. 2 on an $11.9 million loan it took out in 2005 for its portion of the center’s construction.

Of that total amount, the city paid $5.1 million between June 2022 and this past January — $1.7 million each in June 2022, January 2023 and January.

The city borrowed $11.9 million in 2005 to pay its portion of the center’s $45 million overall costs. Most of the construction expenses were covered by $26.8 million in federal grants.

The city paid nothing in principal until 2011, paying just interest during those early years.

Total interest paid by the city was about $6.6 million.

The city repaid the loan and interest from operating surpluses, the admission tax and property taxes the city receives that are specifically meant for its debt service payments, Miasek said.

“Now that we’ve finished paying off the Covelli Centre, we can invest in infrastructure improvements that are greatly needed at the building as it approaches its 20th year,” he said.

The center will soon have its roof repaired, at an estimated cost of $2 million. Water leaks into the building’s kitchen and some loges.

“With the building paid off, we can work on capital projects over the next five to six years,” Ryan said.

Potential future replacements and upgrades include its audio-visual equipment, the hockey rink dashboards, new digital signs, replacing the 1,800 chairs on the floor, and building a storage facility for those chairs and other equipment, Ryan said.

Have an interesting story? Contact David Skolnick by email at dskolnick@vindy.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.


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