How we contributed to Hamvention leaving Dayton (post from the future)

Here we are sitting in 2014 (or maybe earlier) scratching our head after Hamvention is not coming to Dayton. While many may say “who cares”- local hotels, restaurants, car rental businesses, strip clubs- and of course the people who own Hara Arena are all watching their income drop.
But- it’s only one weekend a year you say- but, it’s not just the Hamvention, the Knife and Gun Show has been shut down by the Feds, the model railroad show is now at the convention center, and bingo has been decimated thanks to the new restrictions on Bingo put in place by the Casino lobby.
Let’s blame the Convention and Visitors bureau- let’s blame the people at Hara Arena- let’s blame everyone but us. Yes, we killed all of them.
It will happen- but, first- why do I think this? Read a bit on the discussion boards:

I don’t know how many years DARA has left on their contract to keep the Hamvention at Hara Arena. But if DARA had any “stones” NOW would be a good time to tell Hara that the contract for the Hamvention will NOT be renewed unless the facilities are upgraded.. WITH a very specific list of required upgrades and a timetable. (By next year, without an outrageous rise in rent.) 90% of what is wrong with Hara Arena is lack of periodic maintenance, which is the OWNER’S responsibility.
via Why is Dayton in Dayton?.

When Hara was built there was the Victoria Theater that was run down, Memorial Hall, and a bunch of “decrepit theaters” downtown that were showing burlesque and X-rated movies. UD arena was built for basketball- and there was no convention center. Hara was built with private dollars and run as a private business.

But since those days- the mid-sixties, government increasingly has felt the need to go into the convention business, the concert hall business – all kinds of funding to Hara’s competitors. The convention center, the Nutter Center, support for the renovation of the Victoria and then the building of the Schuster Center, the thing at the Airport- all competitors to a private business, with no need to turn a profit, because you- the shareholders in this “not-for-profit” organization called government have listened to smarmy street hustlers who proclaim that “investing” in these projects is “good for economic development.”

In the meantime- private businesses like Hara Arena have to lower their price, losing the ability to upgrade, maintain and better serve their customers. They don’t get a brand new interstate off ramp built for them- they were too early in the game, and hadn’t learned that the key to everything is to make massive campaign donations to those street hustlers- which, btw are also known as politicians.

Instead of investing in police, fire, repairing our streets, maintaining our schools- we embarked on building competition to the private convention center, ice rink, ball arena- and putting them out of business- slowly, painfully- while racking up huge debt on our money-losing “economic development” necessities.

Sadly, we’ve even lied to ourselves to believe that everything can be done better by the private sector- because as government grew bigger, less focused and forgot about its basic responsibilities- we became less and less proficient at the basics and started to believe that outsourcing everything from running prisons and schools to traffic enforcement to private business was a better move. We even started letting private contractors fight wars for us- at pay scales much higher than what we paid our own soldiers.

I could go on, but the point is made. Investment by government in private markets, be it from giving grants for hiring new employees to one business while not giving equal breaks to their competitors, to building new highway exchanges and subsidizing the brand new office space there- just destroys the businesses that made the initial investment.

Read the comments on the Hamvention boards- and think, what if we’d never created a Convention and Visitors Bureau and added the “Hotel Motel Tax”- and just let the private market do its thing- would things be different? What if we’d never built the Nutter Center with tax dollars- and pulled away concerts and hockey teams from Hara? What would it look like today?

Maybe our government wouldn’t be so deep in the hole, taxes so high, and vacancies downtown and elsewhere so abundant. This is what happens when we let politics be bought by special interests- and if we took the money out of political campaigns, we might see a much different Dayton today. Those street hustlers have sold us one bad investment after another- starting with their campaign lies.

And, businesses like Hara Arena have paid the price.

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