YOUNGSTOWN — The city-owned Covelli Centre, Youngstown Foundation Amphitheater and Wean Park had a tough second quarter with an operating loss of $88,333.
Entertainment facilities only did worse three other times between April and June: in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and in 2006 and 2007, the first two second quarters in the center’s history. and several years before the amphitheater and park opened.
It could have been worse because the quarter was originally expected to lose $181,916, said Eric Ryan, president of JAC Management Group, which operates the city center, amphitheater and park.
“We haven’t had a lot of events,” he said. “We have limited spending. We did much better than expected for the quarter.
The second quarter was historically the most inconsistent for the center, which opened in October 2005. The amphitheater and park opened in 2019. In the second 17 quarters, 10 of them recorded operational losses and seven from surpluses.
Ryan also said there was a “seasonal drop in events” in the most recent second quarter and $40,000 in additional spending to rent a temporary ice plant, which makes and freezes ice at the center, when the existing one broke down.
A show by comedian Katt Williams at the center drew about 5,000 people, which was the highest-attended event during the quarter, Ryan said. Overall, there were 21 events at the complex in the second quarter.
Due to an operating surplus in the first three months of the year, the facilities had a modest profit of $4,397 as of June 30. The budget projected a deficit of $131,542 for the first six months.
The facilities also generated $80,108 for the city through a 5.5% admission tax on tickets during the second quarter. For the first six months of the year, the admission tax brought in $123,130 for the city.
“They did better than they expected,” said city chief financial officer Kyle Miasek. “All the money will be made in the third and fourth quarters.”
Ryan said he expects to at least hit the budgeted operating surplus of $239,045 for the second half of this year.
The July 16 Luke Bryan concert at Wean Park was a huge success “which lifted the third quarter in many ways,” Ryan said. “It will definitely help the admission tax. It will be significant. We have a few other shows that are doing very well. We are going to have a good third quarter and a good fourth quarter.
September looks to be a successful month, Ryan said, with a number of concerts scheduled, including Lee Brice, Lamb of God and Ghost.
He said there are two “big shows” planned for the fourth quarter that have yet to be announced.
City-owned facilities recorded an operating surplus of $19,525 in 2021 as events, besides Youngstown Phantoms hockey games, did not return until June of that year.
Its 2020 operating surplus was $10,915 with nothing but Phantoms games held at the center after mid-March of this year.
Both years were largely supported by federal grant programs to help closed arenas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city borrowed $11.9 million in 2005 to pay for its share of the $45 million center construction. Most of the funding came from two federal grants.
In June, Youngstown paid $1.7 million for principal — the largest such payment ever.
The city owes $3.4 million to the principal and plans to split that amount equally over payments in 2023 and 2024 to clear the debt.
The city only paid interest until its first principal payment in 2011.
Youngstown also borrowed $4 million in 2018 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to pay for the $8 million amphitheater, which opened a year later. The rest of the money came from naming rights deals.
The city repays this loan over 20 years.