Identifying Amphitheater Funding on Council Agenda

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – City Council will consider legislation Wednesday that would advance the proposed amphitheater and riverfront park project near downtown.

Before council will be one ordinance authorizing the city’s finance director to establish an “amphitheater park fund” of up to $12 million for the project and another to purchase 1.2 acres of land from Youngstown Downtown Properties Inc., owned by the operators of The Vindicator, for the project.

The city will pay the appraised value of $205,587 for the property, according to the legislation. The park and amphitheater is being developed on city-owned land adjacent to the Covelli Centre formerly occupied by the old Wean building between the Market Street and South Avenue bridges.

The ordinance establishing the amphitheater project fund represents “just another piece of the puzzle,” Mayor John McNally said.

The legislation, which sets the limit of the fund at $12 million, identifies the fund and its funding sources, Finance Director David Bozanich said.

“It’s a fund-creation piece [of legislation], not an appropriations piece,” Bozanich remarked. “It’s identifying what the fund is going to look like.” Money will come from city water, wastewater and environmental sanitation funds as well as sponsorships and naming rights and any state or federal loans or grants that may be obtained.

Bozanich told members of Council’s finance committee last month that developing the amphitheater and riverfront park would cost between $8 million and $9 million. Under the plan he outlined, the city would borrow $4 million in Section 8 loans against future Community Development Block Grant funds, tap $2 million in water and wastewater funds to address related infrastructure needs and use $1 million from the environmental sanitation fund.

In addition, the finance director said the city has identified $3 million in potential sponsorship revenues from naming rights and other funding opportunities.

The finance director reported he is “having conversations with several groups” and is “pretty close” to having finalized naming agreements that can be announced.

In October, Gary Small, president and CEO of Home Savings & Loan Co., said he expected the bank to be a “big player” in the park project and acknowledged a naming rights agreement “most likely” would materialize from its discussions with the city.

“Everybody has to know that there is a project,” and the fund legislation will “provide a lot of clarity,” if it passes Wednesday, Bozanich said.

“I think there is broad-based support.”

Pictured: Rendering of the amphitheater project.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.