Economic Development

Amphitheater Opening Acts to Be Announced Soon

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Opening weekend acts for the June debut of the Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater should be announced in the next few weeks, promoter Eric Ryan said.

Details are still being finalized on the agreements with the prospective artists, said Ryan, president of JAC Management Group. The company, which already manages the city-owned Covelli Centre, will operate the amphitheater for the city as well.

“We want a local event to be the first event to open it” June 14, Ryan said. Discussions are under way with national acts for the following two days.

Structural steel for the amphitheater is going up this week, as contractors aim to complete the project in time for the projected opening. The materials recently arrived on site and are now being erected, said Charles Shasho, Youngstown deputy director of public works, Thursday morning following a city Board of Control meeting.

During the meeting, the board approved several items related to the project, including authorizing acceptance of a permanent fixed-rate payment schedule for the $4 million loan helping to fund the project and purchase of a cloud-based point-of-sale system and a refurbished lift for use at the site.

“Things are moving along pretty well,” Shasho said. “We had a rough February weatherwise. It’s pretty wet out there still.”

Completion of the $8 million project is targeted for early June.

In addition to erection of the amphitheater’s steel skeleton, work remains on some of the buildings on the site, landscaping and some concrete elements of the project. “We’re looking forward to the weather breaking and getting out there,” he said.

At Thursday’s meeting, the board accepted the permanent fixed-rate payment schedule issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the $4 million Section 108 loan for the amphitheater and riverfront park. The financing will be established through bond financing that HUD offers, said T. Sharon Woodberry, city community planning and economic development director. The city should learn how much the payments will be after the interest rate is set, which the city should learn March 18, she added.

The Youngstown Foundation provided $3 million for the project in exchange for naming rights for the amphitheater.

The board also approved purchasing refurbished JLG-brand lift for use at the site from Illinois Lift Equipment. Its $54,849 bid was the lowest of the three bids submitted.

In addition, the city purchased a food-and-beverage software system for $151,578 from Appetize Technologies Inc., the lowest of three bidders for that contract.

Appetize is used in half the baseball stadiums in the United States, said Kyle Miasek, deputy finance director. The cloud-based POS system will allow concession vendors to sell merchandise throughout the venue without being tethered to a physical building, he said.

The system will not only allow for sales utilizing portable cash registers, but will also provide improved sales tracking and inventory control, Ryan said. Eventually, the system will replace the existing one at the Covelli Centre as well, he said.

A lot of acts and shows book “pretty far out” so the amphitheater could not book until recently, Ryan said. With the opening of the amphitheater approaching, he reported he is seeing an uptick in interest for bookings.

“Now that we have a date it will be ready by, we’re moving forward,” he said. “We’re starting to book from that point forward.” This year’s abbreviated season will see about 15 to 20 bookings at the amphitheater, he projected, and 25 to 30 events next year.

To train and acclimate personnel for the opening, Ryan said he will need access to the amphitheater by June 3.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown is eagerly anticipating the opening.

“It’s coming along. I’m getting excited day by day,” he said. “You can look forward to this summer being exciting down at the amphitheater.”

The city also is conducting face-to-face interviews this week with the final four candidates for the community liaison for the amphitheater and riverfront park. Brown anticipates announcing a hire in the next 30 days, he said.

Pictured: The Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater is on track to open June 14 as the stage frame started going up this week.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.