Dan Rivers

Dan Rivers

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Youngstown has become an entertainment town.

Today's opening argument, I arrived in the valley at about the same time steel was exiting. 

I went thru the period where a catholic priest was urging people to put money in Steel savings accounts, maybe to purchase Youngstown Sheet and Tube, it fell thru just like the Russian commuter aircraft. 

At least we got a building out of the deal, I think it's used by Winter Aviation. Reminds one of the Chill Can plant, it looks like Youngstown will be the owner of some fancy poll barns on the East Side. Do you see a pattern here? 

In any case, Youngstown looked like a poor career choice. I was putting down roots in a valley that had just been up rooted. I went to work for a Rock Station on the AM band. That worked out about how you would guess. I eventually fled to the Williamson's and WKBN. I took advantage of my spare time and earned a degree at YSU. 

It seems like most of my life I have been making excuses for my adopted hometown of Youngstown. Not that life was bad in Youngstown. It was the perception of living in the "Rust Belt" and most everyone was trying to move to Columbus. The 80's were pretty rough unless you worked at the big GM factory or had steady job.

If you lost your job in the steel exit, you know the story better than I. Today's opening argument is about the region changed. The Youngstown area pivoted on October 19, 2005. The Chevrolet Centre opened, now the Covelli Center. After thunderous open with Tony 

Bennet (or Tony Ben Net' as a local anchor called him) and John Melencamp the center paused while the people from Global stepped back from management. The city regrouped and hired a riverboat gambler by the name of Eric Ryan.

Just a few notables that have entertained the valley in the past 15 years include, Barry Manilow, Luke Combs, Rod Stewart, Elton John, Carrie Underwood, Lionel Richie, Eric Church, Kenny Rogers, Disney on Ice, Kelly Pavlick defending his middleweight championship, Alice Cooper and soon Country Rock star Hardy. We enjoyed Steel hound Hockey (thanks Herb Washington) and the National champions Youngstown Phantoms. Blues legend Joe Bonnamasa will pack the Covelli Center next year. 

Not bad for a region that was left dead by steel. I guess Mayor Vuckovich was right "There is a whole lotta living in Youngstown". That bumper sticker was the butt of many jokes in its heyday. 

The city of Youngstown and Eric Ryan were just getting started. For years we drove over the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial Bridge and looked at a hulking "Wean United" long abandoned and sitting as a testimony to the failure our failure. 

When I said we were just getting started, the city saw an opportunity to remove "Wean" and develop a beautiful multi use park that would eventually host "The Beach boys" "Donny Iris" Michael Stanley, "Earth Wind and Fire" Chicago and in just a few day "The Steve Miller Band". Even Franklin Graham made his way to Wean Park on a rainy weekday last year. Think for a moment, Youngstown has a sight line from YSU down Phelps and to the Amp. Who would have thought that was even possible in a dying city? 

Pound for pound the region is about entertainment. In addition to Covelli Center and Wean Park, the region is blessed with Deyor Performing Arts, Ford Recital, Stambaugh Auditorium, Packard Music Hall and the Robbin Theater. Even me, the eternal optimist thought there might be too much entertainment for the 330. 

Don't you get a sense of pride when you see Youngstown listed alongside the Q, Northfield Racino, Nautica, Blossom and Star lake for entertainment choices? During the 80's I was lucky enough to see Alabama and J Geils at YSU. Other than those two acts Entertaiment was bleak in the Valley. 

This weekend, believe it or not, 20 thousand people will gather downtown at Wean Park to hear Kid Rock, Buck Cherry and Lee Brice.

So far in the series "Y Live" we have hosted, Zak Brown, Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton and Luke Brian. It has become an annual must see for the region and much of Northeast Ohio. 

You are likely familiar with the rest of the valley but just in case you have forgotten, we are home to Twin Donald Ross golf courses in one of the nation's largest city parks, Millcreek. In addition, just over the line is Buhl Park in Pennsylvania, home to what we believe to be the nation's only free golf course. Yes free, bring your clubs, Buckeye or Keystoner, walk 9 interesting holes in Buhl Park. Yes, it's a regular 9-hole golf course with no greens' fee.

Warren is getting attention across the state with the "Grand Resort". You likely know people who slip off to Nemacolin in Western Pennsylvania, The Grand Resort is similar complete with a Roman bath and it's in your backyard. Just down the street is arguably Ohio's best and most interesting shopping mall with two name brand hotels on the premises. 

SportsFan's have the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Youngstown State Football and Basketball and the Clark Cup champion Youngstown Phantoms Hockey team.

Over the years countless callers have urged hotels to take advantage of the plethora of golf in the region. Urge no more because in Hubbard's Bill Rabel and company are hosting people from all over the Northeast for Bed, breakfast and golf weekends. Chuck Whitman is doing the same at Kensington in Canfield. 

Youngstown is no longer your father's steel town, it's now an entertainment town. This weekend you can enjoy the Mount Carmel Fest at our lady of Mount Carmel on the Eastside, and of Course, Saturday Kid Rock at Y Live, Queen Nation at the Warren Amphitheater, The Infidels and 8 balls play the Campbell city fest Saturday. In New Castle, it's the Fireworks Festival. Howland has a farm market 9a to 1 Sharon a farm market 8 to 1. Mount Carmel runs thru Sunday and Jazz in the park Sunday afternoon at 3 at Wick Park. 

Take in some entertainment. For a complete list of all the entertainment the business journal does a great job of posting the entertainment each weekend under the heading 'After Hours".

Dan Rivers 

570 WKBN

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