Economic Development

Wean Offers $1.9M for Riverfront Park Naming Rights

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Part of the former Wean United property where the city developed its new amphitheater and riverfront park could once again bear the Wean name, pending approval by City Council of a naming rights agreement.

During a special summer session, council will consider entering into an agreement to award naming rights to the Raymond John Wean Foundation for the downtown park adjacent to the recently opened Youngstown Foundation Amphitheatre. The foundation would pay nearly $1.9 million over the term of the agreement.

The park would be called The Raymond John Wean Foundation Park, Jennifer Roller, Wean Foundation president, confirmed Friday afternoon.

The Warren-based Wean Foundation would pay the city $125,000 annually for 15 years for naming rights for the park, according to the ordinance council members are expected to vote on next week. 

“This investment in The Raymond John Wean Foundation Park is a continuation of the long-followed practice of supporting initiatives that strengthen community through engaging residents,” Roller said. “We look forward to the Wean Park being filled with the diversity and vibrancy of residents, for years to come — a place where it’s always apparent that downtown is everybody’s neighborhood.” 

The idea grew out of discussions about how the Wean Foundation, beyond the grants it awards and its capacity-building activities, might further invest in Youngstown’s physical landscape as it has in Warren, Roller said. The foundation renovated the Market Block Building in downtown Warren, where it is based.

Discussions with Youngstown officials regarding naming rights for the riverfront park began approximately two years ago, she reported.

“It’s been an ongoing process,” Mayor Jamael Tito Brown said. Discussions began as construction got underway. “They showed interest and we continued working as we continued building the amphitheater,” he said.

Wean United operated a plant on the site for several decades that was finally demolished in 2014. “As the former Wean United site, the investment speaks to the reinvestment and revitalization of not only the site but the city,” Roller said.

“It’s a great repurposing and a great opportunity for them to repurpose with their contribution,” Brown said. 

Funds from the annual payment would be used by the park’s management, JAC Management Group, which also oversees the amphitheater and the adjacent Covelli Centre, to hire a community engagement and inclusion coordinator, as well as for maintenance and upkeep of the park grounds. 

Derrick McDowell, founder of the Youngstown Flea, was hired in May as community engagement and inclusion coordinator for the amphitheater and park. 

The city is in discussions with other investors about partnerships and sponsorships for the park and amphitheater, but none of them can be discussed at this point, Brown said.

“There is other interest out there,” he said. 

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.