Hara Arena to close doors

Unable to overcome longtime internal legal battle


TROTWOOD — The iconic venue that brought sports, concerts, entertainment and special interest shows to the Miami Valley for 60 years is closing their doors due to not being able to overcome an internal legal battle that has spanned the last two decades.

“We are painfully aware of the loss this announcement will generate, which is why we have fought so long and hard to prevent it,” says Karen Wampler, Hara’s marketing director.

The loss will come in the form of $36 million in annual economic impact; youth, men’s and professional hockey programs; and the hundreds of events that called Hara Arena home this past year.

“We had hoped to announce a new era at Hara, but are announcing the end of one, instead,” Wampler said.

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.

The Wamplers, with the help of national venue management company, VenuWorks, worked relentlessly for years to change that to a public/private ownership structure to clear Hara’s debt, lighten its tax burden and place it on a more sustainable path, but were unsuccessful.

Hara has hosted hundreds of high-profile events that include presidential visits, Wayne Gretzky’s pro hockey debut and performances by the Rolling Stones, Prince, Nirvana and the Grateful Dead.

The staff is working to help relocate as many Hara events as possible within Montgomery County.

The Dayton Demolition Hockey team that is housed by Hara Arena will not play this season citing lack of arena availability.

“At this time I regret to announce that Dayton Professional Hockey will be going dormant for the 2016-2017 season due to arena availability and lack of lead up time,” wrote Dayton Demolition Coach Joe Pace Sr. on the team’s website.

“I came to Dayton to run a professional hockey team for not only this year but for years to come. Unfortunately due to circumstances out of my control Hara Arena is unable to sign leases not only to myself, but to other tenants,” wrote Pace.

Pace went on to say he will look for another location to house professional hockey in Dayton if Hara Arena is not available for the 2017-2018 season.

One of the most popular events at Hara Arena is Hamvention that had nearly 3,000 vendors at the May event.

Hamvention is one of the biggest events held at Hara Arena, with 27,500 visitors from around the world. The event was expected to bring in $21 millions dollars this year.

Jim Tiderman with Hamvention said even though other cities have vyed to host the event, Hara was its home.

“The venue itself is the only one that can fit what we have grown into,” Tiderman said.

Unable to overcome longtime internal legal battle