Global Update

31 08 2006

Yes, it is true. The Dodge Arena has fired Global Entertainment from its position as manager, and the city of Hidalgo will take over, becoming the third manager since its opening.

According to the McAllen Monitor article, which can be read in full here , the main reason was made out to be that Global wasn’t hiring enough staff from the Hidalgo area, an issue that has been of big concern to the city since its completion. Global has said they will remain in the area, however, “maintaining what [they] do to support the city.”

When you read on, however, you find one distinct difference between the Dodge and the Chevrolet. Dodge was originally managed by Global Spectrum, who was subcontracted by Global/ICC to run the facility, though that relationship was broken off when the city complained of the poor customer service and custodial jobs at the arena. In response, Global created a new company, GECompass, to manage the venue.

Global’s website doesn’t report any news on the event, though they have issued a press release on results of fiscal year 2006. Their net income declined by nearly $200,000, from $435,761 last year to $245,055 this year. In addition, earnings per share were cut in half from .08 to .04. Their reason for lack of revenue growth: not adding new hockey franchises as talks with communities about an entertainment district extended beyond the fiscal year.

Meanwhile, here in Youngstown, Mayor Jay has reported the city’s relationship with Global is just fine. I wonder how much the mayor has looked into the troubles Global has been experiencing in its other places of business, or if he’s even considered looking into other options as far as a manager.

My only comment to conclude this piece is that this current wave of news from Global does nothing to ease my feelings about the company, and only reaffirms my belief the city needs to re-evaluate its relationship with the company, and possibly break off our contract with them. True, they did bring the arena to the city, but since its completion, unfulfilled promises, financial shortfalls, and the facility running at a defecit a year later has plauged it, and I do not think we expected this to happen.


More Gloom and Doom from Global

28 08 2006

First off, I’d like to thank Smoking Gunn, who posted two comments on my contact info page, for calling this to my attention. I greatly appreciate it.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I oppose the operator of the Chevrolet Centre, Global Entertainment. I believe that in one year, they’ve given us many unfulfilled promises in guaranteeing events that haven’t come here, and recently they’ve begun to guarantee us money that will cover debts the city may incur from operating the arena.

It appears our colleagues down in Hidalgo have felt the same way, and they’re now deciding to take action. The city-owned Dodge Arena, at present the only arena beside the Chevy managed by Global, has fired the company as its manager.

This certainly doesn’t help Global’s case in managing our arena, and when the Dodge, a venue that is playing host to considerably higher profile events compared to ours, is cutting ties with Global, I think it’s time Youngstown seriously re-evaluates their relationship with them as well.

Since this is a relatively breaking story, we’ll report back on it tomorrow. Stay tuned.

The Importance of Light

28 08 2006

Recently, I got a chance to see up close the new marquee that covers 20 Federal Place. Since I had no camera with me, I’ll use this picture courtesy of Matt at downtown                                                                           

 On that site, the reception is generally mixed. One thing I agree with is that the neon looks bad. The design of the building and the arches is more early-20th century, and the neon circles look out of place. I admit, though, that it is different from the rest of downtown’s street lighting, and if it covered the edges of the marquee it would definitely make the building stand out more.

I’m more of a proponent of installing traditional lighting on the marquee between the arches, and possibly altar the lettering. Perhaps the address lettering between the doors could be removed and 20 Federal Place could be inscribed between the arches, illuminated by the lights.

Another possibility I like is what I mentioned above about neon covering the edges of the marquee over the current circles, because like I said, it would certainly make 20 Federal stand out over the current street lights.

With that said, I am also excited to hear lighting will be installed on the top. Uplighting will really help add to a “big city” feel for Youngstown. Besides the illuminated Home Savings sign and the lights atop the Metropolitan Tower, the addition of the Chase signage earlier this year is a great addition to the skyline, and more uplighting can only make the city more pleasant at night.

News Ticker

From looking through archived pictures of downtown, a news ticker once existed in downtown, along the northeast corner of the Metropolitan Tower. It certainly wouldn’t be the ABC News ticker in Times Square, but it would be a very nice touch to see a mini-ticker scrolling local and national headlines from Central Square. The corner of the Met is a nice location, though one straight ticker from the Realty Building, where WYTV will place a satellite studio at, would all the more emulate Times Square, though that location is at a bit of a disadvantage seeing it would be less visible then the Met.

Overall, lighting is important in downtown. In addition to making everything more visible, people who don’t normally go downtown would feel safer if they were ever there at night. Besides that, I think it would help beautify the area and make Youngstown a pleasant place to be at any time in the day.

An Actual Opinion on Local Indoor/Arena Football- Thanks Mo

12 08 2006

In light of the bizarre arrest and the now court-ordered mental evaluation of Maurice Clarett, our buddy, Mahoning Valley HitMen owner Jim Terry, is back in the news again, and seems to be in deeper trouble than ever.  His marquee player is locked up, and is almost as much a lock to serve time. To add insult to injury, the Thunderplex has decided his team won’t play there after all, with GM Dave Anderson asserting the league will never get off the ground. On top of that, Warren JFK has pulled out as a venue for his player tryout in September.

Then, let’s look at that “other” franchise, the Mahoning Valley Thunder. They haven’t announced any players, but if anything, they need a quarterback, not a running back. They’ve announced a GM. They’ve hired Michael Hold as head coach, a guy who has been involved with arena football since its inception in 1987. He has his ups and downs- he’s lost more than he’s won as a coach- but he is clearly experienced with the style of play, and for a new franchise, it’ll be good to have someone who knows how the game works and to introduce it to the Youngstown area.

If there’s one thing I can be good at, its obscure analogies, although not completely in the style of Dennis Miller, and I would very much enjoy comparing these two football franchises to the movie industry. See, I think of the Thunder as the established, big-money studio, like 20th Century Fox or MGM. The people who run these establishments are on solid financial  footing, they strike deals (and ones on paper) with the facilities they wish to use, and they do business in a very professional matter. The HitMen, on the other hand, can compare to The Asylum. Now, unless you watch The Today Show every day, like I don’t, you probably haven’t heard of them. But I did catch it the day they profiled The Asylum, and here’s a sampling of some of the direct-to-video fare they’ve put out:

  • H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds
  • King of the Lost World
  • When a Killer Calls
  • The Da Vinci Treasure
  • 666: The Child
  • Pirates of
    Treasure Island
  • Snakes on a Train

These films have been filmed and released to coincide with the releases of the Tom Cruise version of War of the Worlds, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, When a Stranger Calls, The Da Vinci Code, the re-make of The Omen, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, and the soon to be released Snakes on a Plane, respectively. I have actually rented When a Killer Calls, and aside from becoming a near-Snuff film during the last half hour, is completely identical in story to its big-screen counterpart.

But I digress. With that analogy, the HitMen are, for lack of a better word, a knock-off. They were announced shortly after we heard about the Thunder, they say they’re offering their own take on what is essentially the same product, and they’re (trying to) pulling it off on a shoe-string budget, only a fraction of the original product’s.

I‘m not going to hate Jim Terry. I say that because if that correlation proved anything, all he’s doing is trying to do business, and I won’t hate anybody for doing work. But before you start saying this blog is a Terry sympathizer, let me say I whole-heartedly disagree with his business tactics. I believe there should be certain etiquette in conducting business, and Jim Terry has ignored that etiquette, opting to publicize himself and his team like it’s a circus.

I was turned on to the AFL about five years ago, and I still watch, so I’ve seen its rise in popularity, its rise in respectability, and having been to a few games myself, I have a bit of an idea of how the big teams are run. The games are wild: its fast-paced, people are constantly entertained, it’s a true carnival. But during the rest of the week, it is anything but: coaches are doing radio shows to talk about the team like any other league; the front office is very uniform, getting work done in a way as professional as any other big time team. And I think that’s what we want to see with sports teams, or entertainment ventures in general: you expect to be entertained by what you see on the field, not by what you hear about what they’re doing off of it.

And I think the Mahoning Valley Thunder is the team that will offer such. From them, the only stories we’ve heard have been about hiring’s: a GM, a head coach, a dance team coordinator, as well as a lease agreement. From the HitMen, just about everything we’ve heard about them is either deals falling through or deals that have been agreed to in principle, but are only verbal and thus haven’t been finalized. Compare that to the Thunder, where the papers have been signed and are ready to go. The HitMen, on the other hand, have nowhere to play, nowhere to try out, and while they have a phone number, they say nothing about an actual office.

Beside the fact that the Thunder has announced deals that are actually set in stone, I’m more likely to buy tickets for their games because of the environment. It’s downtown Youngstown, with a brand-new arena with all the amenities, free parking, and a great selection of places to go eat and drink, and all within walking distance to the game. The HitMen, if they can find a place to play (so far, the only places left we’ve been able to think of are Valley Sports in Struthers, and the Golf Dome in Girard. The chances of either place striking a deal seem questionable), will be out of the way, with very few places to go to nearby. And while we’re speaking of venues, it’s all the more disheartening to find the “tickets” section is yet another blank page on  

In conclusion, pretty much everyone sooner or later thought Jim Terry was going to fall flat on his face, and as of late, it seems everyone thought right. With no venue, the player he’s been parading around sure to go to jail, no place for his announced player tryout, and dwindling options as to what to do next, it’ll all be rather interesting to say the least to see what he’ll do next with the EIFL season fast approaching.

For the record, New YTOWN formally endorses the Mahoning Valley Thunder, because the site believes it’s safer and much more enjoyable to be swimming in their relatively calm waters.

Editor’s Note: Sorry about the weird fonts. WordPress just does it all on its own. I hate it too.

What to Do With The Wick-Pollock Inn

8 08 2006

Maybe you ate at The Crystal Room. Perhaps you even stayed in one of the rooms. Probably, you just pass it by and probably don’t even notice when you drive down Wick Avenue. Of course, I’m talking about The Wick-Pollock Inn, and since most of us remember it as a hotel, the place has faded out of our memories when creditors closed it down in late 1998.

It was back in the news however, in late 2004, when YSU announced they’d be re-openening the Inn, and unlike the first incarnation, the inn would be completely run by the university. In a Jambar article from October of 04, they reported tables were collecting dust, tiles were uprooted, wallpaper and siding is beginning to fall off; the property was in a generally unkempt condition, and David Sweet was calling for a rennovation.

However, since that time, no such remodeling has taken place. The Wick-Pollock remains in atrocious condition, and could rival some of the buildings on Federal Street that have been demolished to make way for courthouses and parking lots. The two biggest differences between them though, is 1.) YSU didn’t own the Federal St. buildings, and 2.) the Wick-Pollock hasn’t even had ten years to degenerate to its current state, in contrast to the other buildings, which were allowed to sit vacant for much longer.

Many a time, certain people have called for a hotel in downtown. People have also called for the Wick-Pollock to re-open, at an almost identical frequency. YSU asserted that it will be re-opened, yet almost two years have passed and nothing has been done. I realize some more important issues have arose, namely the plan to connect campus to downtown which has hit a snag, but when they make an announcement like that, when they call in the media to let everyone know about this, and then don’t do anything, I begin to question their committment to it. Therefore, perhaps plans for the inn should be altered.

Perhaps the addition to the house could be demolished, which could make way for more parking, and the mansion could be maintained as a guest house of sorts for visitors of the college. Why I think this is because when I think of YSU running a hotel entirely on their own, a comparable hotel that comes to mind is the Ohio University Inn. While that isn’t owned by OU, its primary purpose is to accomadate people and families who are visiting OU.YSU does not enjoy the advantage of having a built-in base of college visitors who need lodging, being a commuter school, and not being one that attracts applicants state and nationwide. This, and that an inn entirely run by the university may or may not be more accomadating to people who may stay there for other reasons, like golfing. This may sound absurd, but they may choose to cut costs by cutting back on things such as early breakfasts and concierge, which can be rather unaccomadating. This, or cleaning the space of any hospitality-related possessions and converting it into classroom space, seem to be the only truly viable options for the inn right now. For a moment, you might think YSU could just sell it, though this seems extremely unlikely since they own all the surrounding property.

I understand that what’s been written on this blog can be seen by some as negative; articles that are critical of the city. I don’t believe in that at all. I truly believe in what the city is trying to do to renew itself, and I feel they will succeed in the end. However, there are some already-existing issues in the city I feel can’t be ignored, and I try my best to bring light to them and to introduce some dialogue as to what can be done. I know Youngstown will succeed, and though not everything will be perfect, we can at least try to make it that way.

But in closing, if you do happen to be near the campus or have some free time, take a look at the Wick-Pollock for yourself. Browse through the gardens, peek through the windows, just take a look at its condition. If you were ever in there, or even if you won’t, you will see why I’m utterly shocked to see it in its present state.


Business Journal Article

Jambar Article

Improving Architecture on Federal Street

3 08 2006

In the recent past, whenever the need for a new government service building has arose, the location they all seem to end up at is somewhere on West Federal Street (exception: Tax Court, at the corner of Commerce and Wick), in an effort to breathe some life back into what was once Youngstown’s “main street”.

This is nice in a way, since these buildings allow for the destruction of unused, dilapidated buildings that would otherwise fall into greater states of disrepair. However, many of these buildings’ architecture leaves a lot to be desired,and simply building more government buildings on Federal shuns the private sector, and every new government building constructed takes away another opportunity for a retail store or a bar or restaurant to open up.

 It is somewhat encouraging to know the Youngstown Business Incubator has bought three vacant buildings that will be demolished and re-built into expanded office space for its companies. What I’m concerned about though, is given the way the wave of new buildings in the area have been constructed, the new building, which will be three floors, will be nothing special, and visually will be no better than the current vacant buildings.

In fact, I think the unused buildings are actually better to look at than these new ones. Given they were constructed so long ago, at least they feature more interesting architecture and more details as far as designs are concerned. In short, they produce an old-time feeling. On the contrary, the new buildings provoke absolutely no emotion or comment when you look at them. The Voinovich Center and the Childrens Services buildings in particular, feature horribly bland designs, and feature even less character than the office-park buildings that cluster at the border of Boardman and Canfield on Rt. 224.

In terms of building design, the new Court of Appeals is a step up. But I’m not willing to settle right there. This is Downtown Youngstown. This is supposed to be the face, the focal point of the Mahoning Valley, and even though we’re going to have to climb up the hill backwards on it, we’re on the right track to make downtown that way again.

Now, there are some very beautiful buildings downtown. The Metropolitan Tower, the Wick Building and all the other high rises around the square, the County Courthouse, the Masonic Temple, Powers Auditorium; they’re all amazing structures and are wonderful representatives of the era they were constructed in. But when we build new structures, make them contribute to the architectural beauty of the area, not take away from it. New buildings in downtown don’t have to be tall, they don’t have to be that big either. But let them have some character; let them be designed and built so that when one is downtown, it gives them a sense that they’re someplace special, a location unlike any other in the area.