In The News: Hara Arena to close it’s doors, Hamvention moving to undisclosed location

The other day WDTN News in Dayton, Ohio reported that the Dayton Demolition hockey team would be taking a year off, cancelling their 2016-2017 season “due to arena availability and lack of lead up time.”  This caused the collective ears to perk up in the ham radio community, being that our annual convention is held at the same location, the Hara Arena.  We were hoping that it may have been due to a failure of the ice equipment at the arena, maybe something like a catastrophic Zamboni incident.  Alas, the other shoe dropped today, as the following announcement was made on the Hamvention website:

The Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) regrets to inform our many vendors, visitors and stakeholders that, unfortunately, HARA has announced the closing of their facility.  We have begun execution of our contingency plan to move Hamvention® 2017 to a new home.

DARA and Hamvention® have enjoyed many successful years working together with HARA Arena and we wish the Wampler family the best.

DARA and Hamvention® have been working on a contingency plan in the event HARA would become unavailable. We have spent many hours over the last few years evaluating possible locations and have found one in the area we believe will be a great new home! Due to logistics and timing issues, we will make a formal announcement introducing our new partner. This information will be coming soon. We all believe this new venue will be a spectacular place to hold our beloved event. Please rest assured we will have the event on the same weekend and, since it will be in the region, the current accommodations and outside events already planned for Hamvention® 2017 should not be affected.

We look forward to your continued support as we move to a new future with The Dayton Hamvention®.


Ron Cramer
General Chairman
Dayton Hamvention 2017

So here we are… a day in ham radio history.  Many of us hate the Hara Arena and have hoped and prayed for this day to come.  Many more of us who are less aesthetically-inclined haven’t given a shit.  Either way, it was inevitable.  The Hara Arena is (was?) a family-owned convention center that has seen better days (many would argue that those better days were 40 years ago), and for the last 20 years it has been caught up in what can only be described as an absolute cesspool of family strife due to lack of a succession plan, back taxes, etc.  From the WDTN website today:

According to the press release when Harold Wampler passed away in 1996 his unresolved estate – under which Hara is co-owned – launched into a two-decades long family and legal battle that drained Hara of the resources for much-needed renovations and reorganization.

(I think they were referring to todays press release from the Wampler family, not a press release in 1996.  Commas are important, people. –Ed.)

The Dayton Hamvention has been held at the Hara Arena every year since 1964.  That’s 53 Hamventions.  I’m sorry to see it go.  There were many memorable moments in that facility, not the least of which was the Great Poopocalypse of 2011, which we all remember fondly:

So now Hamvention is moving to a nicer, cleaner facility.  The Dayton Amateur Radio Association knows, but hasn’t told us yet.  So let’s recap what DARA and the Hamvention leadership has done right:\

  1. They had a contingency plan.  They have done so well over the years that I would expect nothing less, considering that the loss of the Hara Arena was inevitable.  Now they don’t have to be in so much of a panic.
  2. They aren’t skipping a year.  That would be an admission of failure.  They are moving ahead.
  3. They are staying in the same geographic area and sticking to the same dates.  This is critical for two reasons, #1 their travel costs would be prohibitive to move out more than a few hours drive, and #2, the date fits in well with other conventions and events in the area.
  4. They stayed in the Hara Arena as long as possible.  Any other location would have been much more expensive, no use moving it before they had to.  Now they have to move to a more expensive venue.  It’s for this reason that I believe they will probably be raising ticket prices.  That wouldn’t be a bad thing, they have been $20 for three days for as long as I can remember, I don’t think $25 will kill anybody.

So next year will be different and I’m looking forward to it.  But there will be changes and adjustments, and I know that many of you are complainers, so stuff it.  Work with them and in a few years I believe that everything will be great!


(Published from DFW, Texas)

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