Alternative sites for Dayton Hamvention proposed

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Yesterday, the Dayton Daily News published an article about the problems with the aging Hara Arena, home of the Dayton Hamvention.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Fears about Hamvention leaving town because of Hara Arena’s economic struggles has local officials scrambling to propose alternative sites for the economy-boosting event.

Hamvention, the world’s largest gathering of amateur radio enthusiasts, injects millions of dollars into the local economy each year. It has been held at Hara Arena since 1964.

But the arena has struggled financially, and an Iowa-based consultant firm recently asked the city of Trotwood to buy the venue, which Trotwood officials declined. The venue’s owner says the arena is on better financial footing today.

A series of emails obtained by this newspaper through public records requests show that local officials fear Hamvention could pack up and move out of the region and highlight their efforts to keep the event in the Dayton region.

The Dayton/Montgomery County Convention & Visitors Bureau has worked with city of Dayton staff on a Plan B to ensure the event remains in the county if it needs to relocate, said Jacquelyn Powell, the bureau’s president and CEO.

“I want to make it clear that this isn’t the first year that we’ve looked at Plan B options,” she said. “There have been other years where we’ve had this conversation as well.”

The Hamvention board has no intentions of leaving Hara Arena, said Jim Tiderman, general chairman of the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, which hosts the event.

“We do not have any plans whatsoever for relocating,” Tiderman said.

News of Hamvention’s possible relocation was mentioned in an email dated July 7 that was obtained by this newspaper through a public records request.

Continue reading at the Dayton Daily News…

As mentioned in the article, the thought of the Hamvention leaving Hara is not a new one. The Arena leaves much to be desired cosmetically and even functionally–it’s an old venue that requires a sizable investment to maintain.

The Hamvention flea market is, without a doubt, my favorite part of the event.

The Hamvention flea market is, without a doubt, my favorite part of the event.

Earlier this year, I spoke to a long-time DARA representative who assured me that the club wants to keep the Hamvention at Hara for obvious reasons. He did admit, though, that they’ve always had a “Plan B” and even “Plan C” in place, should Hara close its doors.

He mentioned that, each year, Hamvention attendees urge DARA to find a new home, but the fact is Hara is not only the largest venue around, but is the only one on one level. With an aging ham radio population, accessibility becomes a higher priority every year. Those using scooters and wheelchairs would find it frustrating to compete for elevators and lifts in multi-level venues.

As the Dayton Daily News notes, one alternative would be to have two separate locations: one for the inside exhibits and one for the flea market. Selfishly, since I host an inside exhibit table, I appreciate the fact that the flea market is within easy walking distance. It would upset me if they decided to split the venues.

The fact is, no decision has been made yet. DARA still plans to host the 2016 Hamvention at Hara Arena and has no intention of moving anytime soon. That is, as long as the owners of Hara Arena can keep it afloat.

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6 thoughts on “Alternative sites for Dayton Hamvention proposed

  1. oldnuke

    Having heard the horror stories from people who attend, I will never go to Hamvention if its held at the Hara. It sounds like a venue in a third world country (Kabul immediately springs to mind).

    1. Ken Hansen n2vip

      The problem at Dayton is the bathrooms… Period. Manage your fluid intake, and it really isn’t a problem.

      Hamvention is staying at Hara for the foreseeable future.

      1. Thomas Post author

        Good point, Ken! Having had an indoor exhibit in HARA for the past few years, I’ve learned where all of the good bathrooms are! 🙂 (Hint: the Ball Arena has the best maintained ones!)

        To be honest, despite the condition of HARA, most everyone there has a good time. We’re only there for a few days each year anyway.

        I do wonder sometimes if DARA has used any of the Hamvention profits to improve conditions at HARA over the years. Might not be their place to do so, but in a way it’s in their best interest. Deferred maintenance on a facility that large really stacks up.

        1. Ken Hansen n2vip

          This year (my first visit to Hamvention) they had lots of signs showing lots of planned renovations, but no pic of the bathrooms! I asked about bathroom renovations, they said ‘absolutely part of the plan.’

          I doubt the renovations will be done, I don’t think Hamvention generates enough money for the owners to justify any significant investment.

  2. Ken Hansen

    I attended Hamvention this year for the first time, and while DARA is in bad shape, it was ok, but far from impressive. Do I wish it was in a better facility? Sure, but I also wish it were closer to my house in Texas – neither is likely to happen anytime soon.

    Fix the bathrooms, and it’s ok, not great, but ok.

  3. jim miller sr.

    I do not plan to attend the Hamvention as long as it is held in its current very obsolete venue. 2013 was my last Dayton Hamfest.


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