News Column

Management group to take control of Packard Music Hall Sept. 1

June 10, 2014

By Ed Runyan, Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio

June 10--WARREN -- Mayor Doug Franklin and Eric Ryan of JAC Management Group approved an agreement Monday that turns over management of W.D. Packard Music Hall to Ryan's company, in exchange for subsidy payments from the city to JAC that decline each year.

It calls for the city to pay JAC $300,000 for the fiscal year starting in September, $250,000 the following year and $200,000 in year three.

The city subsidizes the music hall at a rate of about $350,000 per year but has paid more than $500,000 some years.

The 16-page agreement spells out that JAC will be responsible for the profits and losses of the city-owned facililty -- a key component of the deal that officials say will lead to more risk-taking on the kinds of entertainment that can be offered.

Cities cannot gamble with public funds by booking shows that might lose money, so W.D. Packard Music Hall has maintained a schedule made up of W. D. Packard Concert Band concerts, commencement ceremonies and other events that don't involve risk.

Those events should continue as in the past, but JAC believes it can add bigger and better shows now that JAC will be responsible for the risk.

"They'll bring bigger and better shows, some of the shows that don't fit the Covelli," Franklin said.

JAC, which runs the 6,000-seat Covelli Centre in Youngstown, will now have the 2,418-seat Packard Music Hall available to book shows too small for the Covelli, Ryan said earlier.

JAC will have to abide by the terms of the Packard Trust, which paid for construction of the hall and contains requirements for its use. It was built on Mahoning Avenue Northwest in 1953 on the 42-acre Packard Park with money from W.D. Packard's will.

Music hall director Chris Stephenson and four other workers will be offered other city employment when JAC takes over Sept. 1, Franklin said.

JAC will have an exclusive option to renew the agreement for two years -- $150,000 for the year starting Sept. 1, 2017, and $100,000 for the year starting Sept. 1, 2018.

The city will remain in charge of the costs of equipment and capital improvements, though JAC will be responsible for ordinary maintenance and cleaning. Any one-time maintenance cost of $3,000 or more will be paid for by the city.

JAC will collect a capital-improvement fee of 25 cents per ticket sold in the first and second year of the contract, and JAC will have the right to charge parking fees to raise revenue for the company and the city. JAC will pay the city 10 percent of net parking revenue.

Franklin said he believes the agreement will increase the sustainability of the music hall in the years to come because the music hall has been a repeated target for budget cuts over the years from those who say the subsidy cost to the city is too high.

Warren City Council gave the city's board of control, which includes Franklin, the right to negotiate the lease with JAC on May 28.


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Source: Vindicator (Youngstown, OH)

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