YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Covelli Center, which has a rich history in the community, celebrates its 10-year anniversary since its first show on Thursday.
In April 2005, five years after then-Congressman Jim Trafficant secured a $26 million federal grant to build an arena in downtown Youngstown, you could see how the facility was going to be configured. Three months later, the concrete pad was being poured for the ice rink.
On October 23, 2005, the ribbon was cut, and a six days later, a concert by 3 Doors Down marked the first event at Covelli.
Eric Ryan, who runs what is now know as the Covelli Centre through his company, JAC Management Group and Eric Ryan Productions, was not sure the facility would last.
“I wasn’t sure that the market was big enough to have this kind of facility in it,” he said. “That concerned me.”
Ryan said he is not concerned anymore.
The hallway of the offices at the Covelli Centre are lined with pictures of all of the big acts that ever played at Covelli. There is Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Bob Dylan and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Hockey has also been a part of the Covelli Centre since day one — first there was the Youngstown Steelhounds, and then the Youngstown Phantoms. The Mahoning Valley Thunder, a professional arena football league, lasted three years.
Elton John’s second visit broke the attendance record, with 7,611 ticket buyers. A Kelly Pavlik fight was number two.
The circus comes every year, there is the occasional monster truck show, and even the rodeo has played the Covelli.
“I never quite dreamt we’d get as far as we had in doing what we’re doing,” Ryan said, adding that his position managing promotions for Covelli initially started out as a temporary gig.
The advantage of his company, he says, is that they have a pulse on the local market.
Jacob Harver has worked downtown since college and is now part owner of The Federal, which was recently revamped and made its debut on Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue.”
Harver said the Covelli Centre has been a staple in the community and has added economically to the downtown area.
“What’s good about the Covelli Centre is that it has brought in a lot of people who normally wouldn’t have come downtown, and it has added a whole other dynamic to the city,” he said.