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Covelli Centre Earns $706,718 in 2014, Best Year Ever

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Concerts that featured rock royalty, family shows, sporting events and miscellaneous uses propelled the Covelli Centre to its most successful financial year ever in 2014, its executive director reports.

“If you were to say seven years ago that we would end up giving the city $700,000 in a year, I’d call you crazy,” says Eric Ryan, president of J.A.C. Management and the Covelli Centre’s executive director. “This was the best year ever by far.”

The Covelli Centre closed 2014 with a net income of $485,233.61, well above its budgeted income of $332,218 and the best financial performance since the arena opened in the fall of 2005. In addition to operating income, the city-imposed 5.5% admissions tax raised another $221,485 for the calendar year, for a total profit of $706,718.61.

In 2013, the arena posted a net income of $348,821 and admissions tax revenues of $197,321 for a total profit of $546,052.

Last year, the Covelli Centre hosted 80 events that drew 190,000 patrons, Ryan says. Among these shows were sold-out concerts by Rod Stewart, Elton John, Hunter Hayes and Darius Rucker.

The city-owned arena  hosted 17 family shows, 36 sporting events, nine concerts, nine spectacle shows and nine miscellaneous events in 2014. During the summer, the arena provided 30 days of rehearsals for the world tour of Walking With Dinosaurs, while its Youngstown State University Community Room was used 75 times last year for meetings, sponsor gatherings, private parties and company seminars.

“We continue to have four to five big shows a year and that’s making a world of difference,” Ryan says.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, the Covelli Centre posted a net income of $89,194, above its budgeted $30,000 net income, Ryan notes.

Ryan says last year’s revenue received a boost because the numbers include proceeds from food and beverage services, which were moved in-house two years ago. Those services brought in an additional $96,563 to the arena’s net income.

“It’s been a combination of well-attended concerts and we continue to keep operating expenses in check,” Ryan says. “Corporate sponsorship is strong and our suites are sold out.”

The Covelli Centre last year focused on upgrading its facilities, Ryan adds. The Huntington Bank VIP Lounge was renovated with new carpet, paint, new glass, and new furniture and fixtures. Suite level corridors were also improved.

“The numbers are excellent,” says Kyle Miasek, the city’s deputy finance director. The city must pay principle and interest on an $11.9 million bond issue it secured to complete construction on the $45 million arena, which should be about $555,000 this year.

“We’ll meet principle and interest with no contribution of the general fund. We should have a cash surplus at the year end,” Miasek says.

The objective all along was to enable the arena to become self-sufficient and earn enough money to cover debt service and operatingl costs, Miasek says. “This is exactly what everybody planned for when J.A.C took over, and that’s for the facility to pay for itself. That was the goal.”

The arena’s numbers have steadily improved since Ryan and J.A.C. assumed management from Global Entertainment Corp. seven years ago. In 2006, the then-named Chevrolet Centre posted a $541,298 loss and continued to lose money until 2009, J.A.C.’s first full-year of management.

That year, the arena posted a $153,952 profit, Ryan says. In 2010, Covelli recorded net income of $110,431; in 2011, it posted income of $123,395; in 2012, the arena earned $342,113; and reported a net income of $348,821 in 2013.

Ryan says 2015 is off to a good start. “We’ve had the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Brad Paisley’s show is sold out and tickets for Def Leppard go on sale Friday,” Ryan says. “We’re looking to have a strong 2015, there’s no doubt.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.