Molly Reed - YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) - With big-name acts like Carrie Underwood, Tony Bennett and Barry Manilow coming to Youngstown, the city's growing success in music entertainment has helped it compete with larger nearby cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
City Events Coordinator Michael McGiffin said five years ago, Youngstown's venues would not have sold out many concerts as they have recently. Even on a Tuesday night, ZZ Top performed to a packed house at Stambaugh Auditorium. On that same night, Elton John sold out a show at the Covelli Centre.
"The more sold-out shows that we have, the more regional draw our visitor's bureau is able to sort of attach to all of the good that's happening in Youngstown. They're able to go out and sell that," McGiffin said.
Leaders credit the success of the local shows to management groups like Eric Ryan Productions/JAC Management, which runs the city's Covelli Centre and Packard Music Hall in Warren.
Eric Ryan, founder of Eric Ryan Productions, said Covelli Centre hosted 86 events last year, giving the city more than $500,000 in revenue. Ryan said the secret to success is marketing the area.
"When you're talking to managers and agents across the country, you need to be able to tell them a story, and our story is simply this: We're a small market that supports the arena. We're a market that supports the arts, and we're a market that will sell tickets," he said.
The city's success has led to a new project -- an amphitheater and urban park next to the Covelli Centre. City leaders said the project would give the city a new outdoor atmosphere to hold community events and larger concerts.
"It's going to be the front door of downtown, the urban park and the ability to really reach out to the community as a whole to me, is what the park is all about," Ryan said.
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