Tuesday, May 16, 2006

ESPN Youngstown

So I get back to apartment and flip on the TV just in time to catch a story on Maurice Clarett on SportsCenter. The story included footage, courtesy of WKBN, of the aftermath of the car crash that Mo was recently involved in. They even included a shot of the Midlothian and Erie street signs. A few shots of an unnamed YPD officer were also included in the footage.

The story then moved to an interview with Harding coach Thom McDaniels, the camera framing him nicely against the background of Mollenkopf Stadium.

ESPN, for once, declined to include the seemingly obligatory reference to "growing up on the mean streets" that usually comes with any national story involving anyone who grew up in the Youngstown area. Even so, there it was, the City of Youngstown, on ESPN.

Maurice, meanwhile, is pretty much toast. Then again, there may be a spot for him on the HitMen roster come next winter.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Thunder Update

There's an article up on the af2 website, finally, about the Thunder. The picture's not the best quality, but from what I can see, the logo looks pretty terrible. The link: http://http://www.af2.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=3525&ATCLID=280884&SPID=1590&ISWIDE=1

More on Local Indoor Football

First off, the af2 press conference apparently did take place today, where the new team was announced. As the rumors had intimated, the new team will be the Mahoning Valley Thunder. In typical fashion, none of the news outlets in Youngstown have put anything of substance on their websites yet regarding the press conference (even though they've been gearing the public up for the team for weeks now). The most information I could find up to now comes from an apparenly semi-literate poster on the af2 message boards who was at the press conference and describes the logo as having a Thor-like character, with hammer raised, combined with the team's initials. Hopefully, there will be some more news on this soon. The af2 website, oddly enough, makes no mention of any expansion whatsoever.

Also, it appears that my earlier announcement of the demise of the Mahoning Valley HitMen was a little premature. Their website has actually been updated, with logos, uniforms, and even sponsors, and it looks like it's still a go. According to Warren's Tribune Chronicle, the team's owner has decided to press on, despite early setbacks in negotiations with the Ice Zone.

It's still up for debate whether or not Youngstown can support one indoor team, let alone two. I think that the af2 team, as I've stated previously, has by far the better chance of survival. What's particularly unusual is that the HitMen club is meant to be the first team in a brand new league- so it's got that added pressure on top of it, as well. No word yet on where those other teams will be from.

af2 Press Conference

There will be a press conference this afternoon to announce the new Arena Football 2 team coming to the Chevy Centre. The word is that they'll be named the "Mahoning Valley Thunder." Sources say they've already signed some players and coaches.

More to come...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Rise and Fall of the Mahoning Valley HitMen

So, it seems, the history of the Mahoning Valley HitMen is over before it ever really started. Apparently, the HitMen would have been an indoor football team- although it was never really clear what league they were going to be a part of. Their website, www.mvhitmen.com, is pretty much devoid of any valuable information, and neither the AIFL nor the NIFL make any mention of them on their websites. I couldn't even find anything on the Vindicator website about them or the press conference that apparently took place this afternoon. They were supposed to play at Boardman's Ice Zone, I do know that- but that's about it.

According to my source, though, the HitMen aren't going to be playing at the Ice Zone- or anywhere else for that matter. The owner has pulled the plug, citing scheduling conflicts with the Ice Zone and the looming shadow of another team that's supposedly on its way to Y-town, from the more established and credible Arena Football 2 (af2) league.

All in all, this is probably a good thing. Outside of the fact that "HitMen" is an incredibly lame nickname (and a recycled one, too- the NY/NJ Hitmen were part of the XFL), the franchise was obviously doomed from the start, and it's better that it died a quick death rather than a long and painful one, which could have killed the city's prospects for more reputable sports ventures in the future. It's much better for a place like Youngstown to field a team that has some pretty stable backing, financially and otherwise, so it can survive long enough to really take hold in the community. The SteelHounds fit that mold. Hockey downtown was never going to be an overnight success, especially when the hockey season starts during the height of the high school football season. But because it had the strength of the CHL to fall back on, the SteelHounds team was able to survive long enough to get over that initial hump and finish the season strong. The process is far from over, of course, but the right things are in place to keep the franchise on the right track.

No word yet on the rumored af2 franchise. Hopefully, we'll hear more soon. Any leads would be appreciated. You can post them below in the comments section.


I just wanted to apologize to everyone who has commented on the entries thus far for not responding. Being new to Blogspot, I had mistakenly assumed that the site would automatically notify me by e-mail when comments were made (like LiveJournal, for example). As a result, I didn't know anyone had commented until today, when I happened to look through the site.

Thank you for your input, though. I'll try to get back to you from now on.

And go visit ShoutYoungstown.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

More on Downtown Revitalization

According to YoungstownPride, the Paramount Theatre may have been purchased by a company in Illinois, who plans to restore and eventually reopen the venue. This is the latest development in the long history of a legendary structure in downtown Youngstown. Rumors have been floating around for a while about the Paramount, with as many hinting at it being demolished as it being restored. This news, if true, is exciting for a number of reasons.

Any development downtown is essentially positive, as it brings people, money, and safety downtown. New development, like the new courthouse and the Chevy Center, brings a sense of new life and new energy. However, the restoration of an old landmark downtown is perhaps even better. Not only does it bring many of the same benefits as new development, but it also establishes a link to the city's past and, in figurative terms, wipes away some of the tarnish on the city's reputation.

Assuming that the Paramount Theatre is used for plays, movies, and concerts, its restoration will add to downtown's growing cultural and artistic vibe. With the Chevy Center, Powers, and the Paramount as venues for performance (along with Cedar's, that perennial haven for artistic souls), downtown Youngstown will finally reclaim an identity for itself beyond that of an apocalyptic nightmare where only late-century Ursuline graduates dare tread.

As always, though, this is Youngstown we are talking about- a city whose motto should read, "Hope for the best- but expect the worst."

City as Suburb

Another entry from YoungstownPride mentions an article on Youngstown's possible future as a "bedroom community" for Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Location, of course, makes this a possibility (although it is a significant distance from either city when it comes to a daily commute). Having not read the article myself, I cannot comment on it directly. However, it would seem to me that a major hole in this argument would be the decline of the entire region in which Youngstown finds itself. Cleveland and Pittsburgh (along with nearby places like Buffalo, Wheeling, and Detroit) are all in an extended decline. The populations continue to shrink- I believe Columbus was the only city in Ohio to actually gain population last year- while jobs and businesses move out of the urban centers. The decay has spread outward from the cities and into once-renowned places such as Shaker Heights, East Cleveland, and, to a lesser extent, Euclid. Therefore, a growing "white-flight"-related migration to Youngstown seems fairly unlikely at this point. One of the main reasons people move to these "bedroom communities" is because they want to stay near the city, but not too close to the city. The problem, though, is that no one wants to really stay near the cities in question anymore. Especially for most young people in this region, it's down south and out west- not an hour from Mom and Dad's. In fact, it seems more likely that this type of thing would happen in a place like Gary, Indiana (as young people- many from the Youngstown area- continue to flock to Chicago) than it does for Youngstown.

Whether or not I'm correct about the paragraph above, one thing to remember is that the future of Youngstown is still inevitably tied to the future of the entire region (and most closely to that of Cleveland and Pittsburgh), a future which looks pretty bleak at this stage. Plus, the absolute disaster that is state government in Ohio only makes things worse for Cleveland and Youngstown. That being said, Youngstown still has the opportunity to carve out a niche as a unique place all its own. Whether or not that opportunity is taken is the question at hand.