YOUNGSTOWN - Mayor Charles Sammarone says the city is looking for a consultant to guide it on how best to sell or lease the Covelli Centre.
Sammarone said Tuesday that he has decided to look for ways to get rid of the city's interest in the arena, 229 E. Front St., because of the nearly $1 million a year it is paying on loans for the arena's construction.
''It's not a good business transaction,'' Sammarone said.
Of that $1 million, about $600,000 is in interest, Sammarone said.
He said he hopes the city can have a consultant on board to give them some guidance by the end of the month but added that a more realistic timetable is August.
Sammarone said with the influx of new workers into the V&M Star plant, the city can keep up with the payments for now. He worries, however, about the future and what will happen if job growth in the city slows.
He said he worries about the next mayor coming into office and having to lay off police or firefighters in order to keep up the interest payments.
The arena opened in 2005 and was constructed after former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. secured a $25 million grant to build it. The city had to secure loans because it built a facility that cost about $48 million.
Since then, it has been through two name changes and also two management companies. Besides concerts, it is home to the Phantoms junior minor league hockey team.
Sammarone first broached the idea of selling the arena in late April during a meeting with City Council's Finance Committee.
He said he thinks he can get some interest in a private entity buying or even leasing the arena.