Music hall deal could be profound

An agreement between the City of Warren, Sunrise Entertainment and Bob Early Productions, announced Friday morning by Mayor Doug Franklin during his State of the City Address, to restore a robust schedule of professional entertainment at Packard Music Hall, has the potential to greatly improve the quality of life in the city and serve as a pivotal turning point for Franklin’s administration.

That’s because a successful Packard means more than just enriched arts and entertainment offerings for residents. It means customer attraction for local businesses. It means business attraction for the city. It means more safety forces. It means more street resurfacing.

It means a lot of progress, if done correctly.

Every year the city budgets approximately $250,000 for the music hall. Most years the city actually ends up subsidizing the hall with about $400,000.

But promotors such as Sunshine Entertainment and Bob Early Productions, who have a track record of enormous success in bringing the wildly popular River Rock at the Amp series to downtown every summer, could wean Packard off that subsidy while at the same time honoring the Packard family with a level of entertainment unseen at the music hall since the Kenley Players.

The general fund money currently spent on Packard could then be diverted to important necessities – law enforcement to reduce crime and street resurfacing to address dilapidated roads high among them.

Another thriving entertainment venue means more visitors near the downtown, which results in more customers for area businesses.

Another thriving entertainment venue would also serve as a selling point for companies, especially in the shale industry, moving into the Mahoning Valley.

This announcement comes as the music hall completes a $1.5 million project that includes upgrades to the stage, sound and lighting.

If this all comes together, the Franklin Administration could be the first in a long time to reverse Warren’s downward-spiraling fortunes.