Council hears proposal to fund Youngstown amphitheater project

The Riverfront Amphitheater downtown will also include a walkway and park-like setting connecting the amphitheater with the Covelli Centre

Youngstown's downtown amphitheater project is being called the city's Central Park.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown is closer to building a riverfront amphitheater downtown and city council seemed to agree Monday night on a plan to pay for it.

The area next to the Market Street Bridge is currently covered with mounds of dirt from the Interstate 80 construction project, soon to be fill for Riverfront Amphitheater.

“It’s crunch time as far as our go forward strategy on this,” said City Finance Director Dave Bozanich.

He told city council that the cost of the project will be $8 to 9 million.

The funding will come from five sources:

  • $4 million federal loan to be paid back over 20 years
  • $2 million from both water and wastewater
  • $1 million from environmental sanitation
  • $3 million from sponsorships

“We could put up a facility for $400,000 or $500,000 and put up a concrete stage and say, ‘Okay, this is an amphitheater.’ It’s not going to be a game changer, it’s not going to make a difference,” Bozanich said. “This project here is going to make a difference when people look at it and say, ‘Wow, that is really nice.'”

Complete amphitheater/park proposal (PDF)

The plans not only call for an amphitheater, but a walkway and park-like setting connecting the amphitheater with the Covelli Centre. There’s talk of a water park, basketball courts and possibly an ice skating rink to be built within the park.

Council members did have questions, but none of them objected to how the amphitheater will be funded.

“I think it makes sense and we need to spend money ourselves. The city has a history of doing that. We spent the money to redevelop our industrial parks, to rip down the blighted steel mills, and those are actually revenue-generating for the city with income tax,” said Fourth Ward Councilman Mike Ray.

Second Ward Councilman TJ Rogers is fine with the way the funding for the project was proposed.

“Sometimes you have to do creative things in order to fund projects that are this important for the city,” he said.

Monday’s meeting was just a committee hearing. Youngstown Council must still approve the funding proposal for the Riverfront Amphitheater, which is expected to done at its next meeting on December 7.

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