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Mall event center opens

High-tech space pays homage to the past

Staff photo / Ron Selak Jr. James Campbell, director of sales and marketing at the Eastwood Event Centre at the Eastwood Mall, stands in Rosselli Hall, a pre-function space at the center named after legendary Youngstown State University basketball and baseball coach Dom Rosselli. The center had a soft opening in late October and is available for booking.

NILES — When the new Eastwood Event Centre is wide open, it offers just under 16,000-square-feet of meeting space for trade and corporate conferences, parties of all sorts, wedding receptions, social galas, and cocktail and fundraising events.

But “we have the ability to separate that into as many as six rooms, and what is really nice is we can tailor the space, especially as we are currently in the COVID-19 era with the cap on events at 300,” said James Campbell, director of sales and marketing.

The much-anticipated event center at the Eastwood Mall held a soft opening at the end of October. Already it has hosted several events; among the latest was the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber’s annual economic forecast breakfast.

It was built with “all the bells and whistles” with the latest high-tech internet, audio and visual equipment, including drop down screens and projectors. The interior is crisp and clean, designed with functionality in mind — pretty much a blank canvas for users to decorate, if needed, as they wish.

“We don’t have the big opulent chandeliers with crystals dripping down that are going to be distracting from the conference speech or all of the power points, so it’s a nice clean slate,” Campbell said.

That functionality offers flexibility, especially now as people more and more continue to hold hybrid-style meetings — part in-person, part online — to avoid crowds amid the viral pandemic. That trend is expected to continue well into the future.

“Having that flexibility to let people attend from a remote basis is more than just a convenience, it’s a necessary item, but once we get past that, we do have the facilities to do well over 800 people,” Campbell said.

The grand ballroom is 15,852 square feet. It can be split into smaller spaces, from 766 square feet in the Buhl room to just more than 6,000 square feet in the Ritz 1 room or a number of combinations in between.

The rooms — Ritz 1 and 2, Packard, Idora, Warner and Buhl — all pay homage to the rich history of the Mahoning and Shenango valleys. Ritz, for examples, is a nod to the former Ritz Bar in Youngstown that Cafaro Company founders, brothers William and John, ran before starting off in the property development business.

Cafaro Company owns and operates the mall. The company’s corporate headquarters is adjacent to the event center.

The concourse leading to the event center is Rosselli Hall, a tribute to the legendary Youngstown State University basketball and baseball coach, Dom Rosselli. The pre-function space is McKinley Hall after William McKinley, the 25th president of the United States. He was born in Niles.

“There is a reason for that,” said Campbell of the historical recognition. “We really want to be part of the community and that is why those names were chosen, because it plays into the nostalgia and importance of to the area.”

The center is a total more than 33,000 square feet. It also has a full kitchen and bride’s and mother’s rooms. It’s connected to the Residence Inn by Marriott and is within 1 miles of four other hotels and within 10 miles of 24 hotels.

The idea of the event center was born in about 2006, “but for one reason or another, there were other projects that would put it to the back burner … so it was always sort of simmering there,” said Joe Bell, director of corporate communications for Cafaro Company.

Planning in earnest began in 2017 once those other projects, including the construction of Cafaro Company new headquarters, were complete.

The daily operations of the center are run by Columbus-based hospitality and hotel management firm, Columbus Hospitality Management, picked after an exhaustive search for the right operator. In addition to Campbell, Michael Patrone is general manager and Megan Clark is catering and event manager.

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