Awards & Events

Y Live Set to Break Records with Florida Georgia Line

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Headlined by Florida Georgia Line, this Saturday’s Y Live event may draw more people than a record-setting presidential campaign visit to the city.

JAC Live is gearing up for a record-breaking sophomore year hosting Y Live at Stambaugh Stadium on Youngstown State University campus on Aug. 11 at 7 p.m., said Eric Ryan, president of JAC Live and JAC Management Group. Supporting Florida Georgia Line are Morgan Wallen and Chris Higbee.

When booking this year’s event, which is co-promoted by The Muransky Companies, Ryan said he wanted to find a band that wasn’t already touring regionally to maximize tickets sales. Last year, the Zac Brown Band played both Cleveland, Columbus and Pittsburgh five weeks before Y Live.

While that didn’t stop Y Live from setting a Youngstown concert attendance record at 15,000, signing Florida Georgia Line – which isn’t touring any of the neighboring cities – has Y Live on track to top last year’s record, he said.

“Sales have tracked 20% ahead of last year,” Ryan said. “This year, if sales continue the way we see it, there shouldn’t be a ticket left. It should be a full house.”

When it’s set up as a concert venue, Stambaugh Stadium holds more than 19,000, he notes. At capacity, that’s about the same number of people who attended a downtown presidential campaign rally for John F. Kennedy on Oct. 9, 1960, he said.

“It’s going to be an historic night,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to have the most people who have ever been gathered in Youngstown, to our knowledge, since John F. Kenndy visited during his campaign. We’re looking to break that record.”

Ryan declined to say how much it costs to put on Y Live, but said that such events “are very expensive” when converting a football field to a concert venue with staging and set up. JAC will employ nearly 400 that day, from set up crew and stagehands to concessions and security, some of whom will be subcontractors, he said. Insuring the event adds to the cost as well, he said.

JAC took 2017 as a learning experience and is finding ways to do things more efficiently this year, he said.

“We learned about the expenses and how to make things more economical,” he said.

This year, JAC has increased the number of gates and will use metal detectors instead of wands to get people in quicker, he said. Last year, restroom access was an issue, so this year JAC is adding portable toilets, or porta-pottys, to the plaza area below the stadium, nearly doubling the number of restrooms.

Ryan believes this will add to the overall fan experience and positions Y Live for future growth.

“Certainly over last year we’re looking to increase the profits. At the end of the day, it’s a great event for the University, it’s a great event for our town,” he said. “We want it to be a stepping stone each and every year.”

Putting on a successful Y Live event establishes Youngstown as a community that supports live music, he said, which will help the city continue to attract national touring acts. Entertainment is “a small industry,” he said, so being able to market the fact that Youngstown can draw 17,000 to 19,000 concertgoers shows “an appetite for entertainment.

“Success is what helps fuel entertainment as a whole,” he said. “I think if you talk to any of the other venues in town, they’ll tell you the more success we have, the better it is for everybody,” including the theaters, the Covelli Centre and the forthcoming Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater downtown.

Y Live 2018 is “a huge event for us” to get Florida Georgia Line, who continue to set records of their own, Ryan said. Last month, the band enjoyed its 90th consecutive week with a song on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, the most for any country performer since George Strait set the record at 84 weeks.

In addition, the band’s Nashville-based managing entity, Big Loud Management, reported that “Meant to Be,” Florida Georgia Line’s collaboration with Bebe Rexha, is tied with Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road” for the longest running country song at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart at 34 weeks. Florida Georgia Line has held the top spot six times, including its single “Cruise,” which was No. 1 for 24 consecutive weeks.

Ryan isn’t setting any expectations about Y Live 2019, but said he’s open to increasing the event, even adding a second day if necessary.

“We want to get through this year, regroup, see where we’re at,” he said. “We want to do this every year, no ands, ifs or buts about it. We have a great relationship with the university; it benefits them in so many ways, it benefits us and it benefits the community as a whole.”

For anyone interested in attending Y Live this weekend, Ryan recommends getting their tickets “in a hurry.” Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com and start at $45.

Event sponsors include Southwoods Health, Huntington Bank, Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC, The DeBartolo Corporation, Youngstown State University and Phantom Fireworks.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.