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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Jeff DziwulskitruddickGarybill Recent comment authors
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I applaud your thoughts. How quickly we forget the level of grandeur of which Dayton rested itself. Incessant lies and greed(politics)….soon erase the history and greatness of our once vibrant city.
We have lost the great ATA in most recent years….and now the Hamvention which was literally recognized worldwide by enthusiasts.


Hara never really was too organized when it came to concerts … Back in the day, they had some good bands, but it was always festival seating, lots of smoking and not enough advertising … Incidently, when Bad Co. played there or someplace in Dayton, they got booed!  When Asia, Boston and Utopia played there it was cool, even Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani played there to a half-packed crowd.  And Foghat played at the car show ajoining the arena, and that was crowded …
Management must’ve got complacent and took their profits to the bank, and like mentioned here, didn’t upkeep it!
My friend was severely burned there in the roof section sneaking into Charlie Daniels’ show, and subsequently, Charlie gave him a boom box in the hospital … Where is Charlie now when Dayton needs him back?  Eddie Money prefers to play in Moraine now, at their summer festival at Splash Moraine.


All I’ve ever heard about the Hamvention and its fans and radioheads was that they kept lots of people awake throughout the night radioing, and thier darn antenae interfered with many people’s appliances, let alone, how fat they all are!  I’m fat, too … Good riddance!


Well, all you bozo voters–what do you have to say?  Have gun and knife shows that promote violence?


Ah Gary.  Your level of dyspepsia deserves awe. Re: Bill Goodman’s Gun and Knife Show, shoot a buddy, stab a friend…responsible firearms dealers don’t promote violence.  The problem arises when irresponsible ones are permitted to do business.  We don’t allow the free sale of automobiles, houses, businesses, or pharmaceuticals without a paper trail; the time has come to realize that the only reliable way to keep weapons out of the hands of felons and the mentally unbalanced is to register them.  Some claim that registration would be the first step to revoking the right to own arms, but I don’t notice that registration has done that regarding cars, homes, businesses, and legal drugs. As for Hara not managing concerts well–back in those days, no one did.  I quit attending shows at Riverfront in Cincinnati due to the utter lack of crowd control–and while everyone now thinks that was a good choice b/c I wasn’t in danger of getting trampled to death, they forget how in the years leading up to the Who concert there were people injured/deafened by a troglodyte who threw a large firecracker into the floor seating, others injured in fistfights, falls down stairs where no one cleaned up the barf– And in the cable-TV generation, ham radio operators no longer interfere with reception.  Unless you’re still into AM radio, in which case one weekend without Rush won’t kill you (it might make you stronger). Having regularly volunteered for Computerfest (which died not due to Hara mismanagement, but due to Dayton Micro’s), my observation is that Hara rents out the space to whoever can come up with the money; it’s shabby but also it’s cheap so it does fill a market niche, and the renters are responsible for managing their own shows.  From my perspective, if I’m at Hamvention, I’m looking at displays and perhaps attending a lecture or three–and the tattered linoleum and airplane-hanger walls are not in my consciousness.  Those who have lots of cash and who want a ritzy-looking facility will rent from other levels of the market, not from Hara’s low-end.  As a  guy… Read more »

Jeff Dziwulski
Jeff Dziwulski

Hara Arena!   In Dayton!  Well not really in Dayton,  it seems.

Believe it or else, Hara Arena was perhaps the first time I heard of Dayton aside from the dim knowlege that thats where the Wright Brothers were from and that there was some sort of airplane museum there, with rockets, too. 

Back in the 1970s Louisville had this really really good FM rock radio station, WLRS (“The Walrus”), and this promoter, whos name I forget, (was it Trigg Black?) used to promote rock shows via ads on the station.  One of the venues he promoted shows at was “Dayton’s Hara Arena!!!”, or the “Hara Arena in Dayton!!!”.  For some reason I had this image of this big arena in the middle of some big midwestern city, like, say the Market Square Arena in Indy or Cobo Hall in Detroit.

So that is how I came to know of Dayton.  As a place to go up to listen to, say, Bad Company or Starz or the other bands of that era, IF i wanted to drive up there, at what sounded like this big urban sports and concert venue…

Little did I know….