McNally Looks to JAC to Operate Amphitheater

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Mayor John McNally wants to expand the city’s contract with JAC Management Group to manage the amphitheater being developed as part of the downtown riverfront park project, he said Monday.

Legislation could go before City Council in the next few weeks to authorize JAC’s expanded role and his administration is working on a new contact with JAC, McNally said. JAC manages the city-owned Covelli Centre.

Youngstown is in discussions with two foundations and three banks – Home Savings Bank is one The Business Journal has identified – to contribute to the project.

“We’ve had a lot of good, serious discussions with these different entities. It’s just a matter of putting pen to paper,” McNally said. Entities in discussion with the city also are in favor of JAC and its president, Eric Ryan, being part of it, McNally said.

“We think that’s a good idea,” the mayor said of JAC’s involvement. He said he hopes legislation would be presented to council – which must approve any new or amended contract – in the next few weeks.

Youngstown plans to use as much as $5 million in water and wastewater enterprise funds to support related items that are part of the $9 million riverfront park and amphitheater project, including the relocation of an 84-inch sewer line on the project site, and is seeking to use federal Community Development Block Grant funds.

The McNally administration’s decision to move forward on the riverfront park/amphitheater project was among the topics discussed during a debate between McNally and his challenger in next month’s Democratic primary, Jamael “Tito” Brown.

During the debate, carried live on, Brown criticized the premise of using of block grant funds for the project, especially in light of potential cuts in such funding proposed by President Donald Trump, and asked whether the city moved “too fast” on the project.

“What are we going to do if we get cut by D.C.?” he asked. Brown said he would have preferred that funds for the project be raised from private sources.

“As a city we need to be focused on our people,” he continued. “We can’t do the project on the back of our water and wastewater customers and citizens in this community.” In addition, he argued that few Youngstown residents would be able to use the amphitheater.

When it opens in May or June of next year, the amphitheater will have “more of a community aspect” than the Covelli Centre, McNally said.

The amphitheatre and riverfront park will serve as “a great greenspace” for downtown residents, the business community and Youngstown State University, he said. And the amphitheater would serve as a venue for Sunday religious services, family reunions and other public events, he added.

“It’s going to be much more open and much more accessible than the Covelli Centre,” McNally emphasized.

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