Zoldan Family Donates $5M for YSU Student Center Project

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Zoldan family of Youngstown, founders of Phantom Fireworks, is donating $5 million to Youngstown State University’s campaign to build a new student center on campus.

The donation matches the largest gifts ever given to YSU, and the new facility will be called the Zoldan Family Center.

YSU President Jim Tressel announced the gift at center court during a timeout in the first half of the YSU men’s basketball game against Oakland at Beeghly Center on Friday. The game, which drew a near-sold-out crowd, was broadcast nationally on ESPN2. Youngstown State won, 77-73.

The announcement not only capped a glorious night for the university, it also became a final feather in the cap of Tressel, whose eight and a half years as YSU president ends in a few days. Tressel will retire Feb. 1.

“The word philanthropy certainly describes the Zoldan family,” Tressel said. “The word comes from the Greek language and means love of humanity. Bruce Zoldan and the entire Zoldan family have once again lived up to that definition. We thank them for their tremendous generosity in helping to make the dream of a new student center move closer to reality here at YSU.”

Tressel and his wife, Ellen, are leading the campaign to raise $20 million for the new student center on campus.

“Bruce and his family are at the top of the list of success stories at YSU, and their legacy now joins the likes of the Williamsons, Meshels, Kohlis, DeBartolos, Beeghlys, Cafaros and so many other YSU benefactors,” Tressel said.

The Zoldans are long-time supporters of YSU, including a $1 million gift in 2020 for student scholarships and to establish a new mentorship program in honor of their parents, Sam and Sylvia Zoldan, and their uncle, Abe Yampolsky.

“The Zoldan family has benefited from the university’s continued strong presence here in our community,” said Bruce Zoldan, president and chief executive of Phantom Fireworks. “It is a privilege to be able to give back and support President Tressel and the entire YSU community and to make a difference in the lives of all of our students.”

Jackie Popovec, lead singer of the Youngstown-based rock band The Vindys, sang the national anthem before Friday’s game.

Pictured at top: The scene at Beeghly Center on Friday during YSU’s game against Oakland.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.