Home Savings in Talks for City Park Naming Rights

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Home Savings & Loan Co. is in talks with the city of Youngstown regarding a naming rights deal for the park the city plans to develop as part of the $6 million amphitheater project envisioned for the former Wean United site adjacent to the Covelli Centre.

Gary Small, Home Savings president and CEO, told those attending Thursday night’s meeting of the Downtown Youngstown Partnership that he expects the bank to be a “big participant” in the park project.

During an interview later, Small acknowledged that a naming rights deal for the park was “most likely” what would materialize. “We’ve had a number of meetings on the topic and now it’s getting down to short strokes,” he said.

City council heard Oct. 6 from representatives of MKSK, the Columbus firm the city engaged last year to develop a master plan for the proposed amphitheater and riverfront park.

The first phase of the project, on the west side of the Market Street bridge, would encompass construction of the amphitheater and related structures, the promenade, entry plaza, utility connections and VIP parking. The second phase includes earthwork seeding and planting, trails and paths, parking improvements for the Covelli Centre and an in-line hockey park.

Features of the project also would include splash pads to create a “mini-waterpark” on the site, according to MKSK’s master plan.

Small said he has a figure amount in mind for park naming rights but it would be premature to disclose the dollar amount only that it would be “meaningful over a multi-year period.”

Discussions are continuing about the visibility Home Savings would receive in exchange for its contribution to the project. “I would just say that we’re looking for a seven-to-10-year commitment and it would be a substantial amount,” Small said.

Finance Director David Bozanich confirmed the city is in serious advanced talks with them on all these issues,” but a final agreement will take more time.

Home Savings officials met with Mayor John McNally and Bozanich about 18 months ago when they first heard about what the city was planning.

City officials also had discussions with several private entities. “We were very pleased that many indicated that they would participate,” Bozanich said. The Home Savings representatives were “truly wonderful” in terms of their proposed commitment to the project, he added.

Widespread local business support “was something that we did not see with the original construction of the convocation center,” now known as the Covelli Centre, Bozanich remarked.

At the early meetings, Small said Home Savings authorized the city to say the bank had committed “up to a certain amount” to help encourage additional private support as well as funds from public entities.

“Oftentimes you can’t get money out of Columbus or whomever unless you can say you’ve got this private money behind you,” Small told The Business Journal. “Early on we wanted to make sure that the folks who were moving the project along knew they had local support if they needed it to get other powers-that-be behind the project.”

That commitment “absolutely” has been valuable to the city as it works to secure more private dollars, Bozanich confirmed. “Their early tentative commitment has made a world of difference. I can’t stress that enough.”

Still, efforts to secure state funds have not been successful, and Bozanich lamented that state legislators were unable to deliver an allocation from the capital budget. “That frankly is quite frustrating,” he said.

About 80% of the funds needed on the public side have been identified. And half of the funds needed from the private side are identified. The city has not yet “actively solicited” the remaining support, Bozanich said.

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Pictured: Work crews prepare the site of the proposed amphitheater and riverfront park.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.