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Ryan talks about bringing sports to Covelli Centre

BEAVER TOWNSHIP — Since 2005, Eric Ryan and his JAC Management Group have promoted concerts and sporting events, also managing the day-to-day operations at sites including, but not limited to, the Covelli Centre, Packard Music Hall, Youngstown State University and several venues throughout the midwest.

From Elton John to Carrie Underwood to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, to Blake Shelton, Florida-Georgia Line and even the Zach Brown Band, his acts have been well-received and money-makers at sites that he represents.

Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly meeting at Avion Banquet Center, Ryan told the group he’s tried to promote athletic competitions when possible and add sports — themed events to his line-up of promotions.

“The Youngstown Steelhounds, a member of the Central Hockey League and an affiliate of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, played at the Covelli Centre from 2005-06 to 2007-08 before disbanding,” Ryan said. “The Youngstown Phantoms, a Tier-I team in the United States Hockey League, is currently housed by the Covelli Centre so we have hockey going on from late-September until mid-April.

“On the whole, minor league sports isn’t an easy proposition but the Phantoms and their administration do their very best to promote their product. They work hard and the community needs to support their efforts if they are to sustain.”

Ryan’s JAC team took over for Global Entertainment in 2007 and his immediate charge was to find a way to turn a profit for the Covelli Centre and city of Youngtown, having suffered yearly losses during those early years.

“We’ve worked really hard and I am proud to say that for 10 straight years now, we’ve been able to turn a profit,” Ryan added. “In addition to concerts and other related events, we’ve also staged outdoor ‘3-on-3’ basketball tournaments, championship boxing events, both indoors and outdoors, high school basketball games and special scholastic basketball tournaments.

“We’ve also been home to a highly successful state wrestling tournament, which is a competition that attracts students of all ages.”

Ryan said the four-day, two-weekend wrestling event remains attractive because it draws coaches, athletes, families and media from all over the state.

“The wrestling tournament alone will bring over 10,000 people each weekend to the Mahoning Valley,” he stated. “Not only do you see some of the very best wrestlers from across the state, but those two weekends have had a great economic impact on our area with hotels, restaurants and gas stations reaping the benefits.”

Ryan estimates that he programs and promotes between 100 to 110 events for the Covelli Centre, another 70 for Packard Music Hall while JAC Live promotes and produces another 15 to 20 events outside the Youngstown market.

Under Ryan’s direction, the Covelli Centre will host the West Virginia-YSU basketball game on Dec. 21, a game that he credits Penguins’ head coach Jerrod Calhoun with an assist to finalize.

“For some time now, I’ve wanted to do a game a year with YSU and a marquee team,” he noted. “We did a Hiram-YSU game and that kind of kick-started this whole process. I mentioned my idea to coach Calhoun and he is the one who really laid the groundwork to make this happen with WVU.

“Tickets are selling well and while it’s a one-game special event, we feel that we can do it annually. We’ve even entertained the thought of hosting a doubleheader and making it a gala the night before so there are many options and opportunities we’ll keep exploring.”

For tickets to the WVU-YSU game, visit the Covelli Centre Box Office or go to ticketmaster.com.

Next Monday, local sports historian John Caparanis will serve as guest speaker.

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