[Updated 2016-07-29@1807 UTC] Hamvention® has announced that Hara Arena, the home of Hamvention since 1964, is closing, but Hamvention will continue. Hamvention 2016, the event’s 65th running, was also the last held in the six-building Hara complex. Hamvention 2017 will be held at a new, yet-to-be-disclosed location in the Dayton area.
“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,” a news release from Hamvention General Chair Ron Cramer, KD8ENJ, said today (July 29). “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.”
The news has struck the Amateur Radio community like a lightning bolt — albeit tempered only by DARA’s assurances that Hamvention will not be going away as well.
“We are painfully aware of the loss this announcement will generate, which is why we have fought so long and hard to prevent it,” Hara Arena Marketing Director Karen Wampler said in a news release.
According to Cramer, DARA and Hamvention have been working on a contingency plan in the event that the deteriorating Hara Arena ever should 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!” The announcement said that DARA and Hamvention expect to make a formal announcement soon “introducing our new partner.”
“We all believe this new venue will be a spectacular place to hold our beloved event,” Cramer said. “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.”
A hockey team’s cancellation of its upcoming season earlier this month had raised questions about the future availability of Hara Arena for Hamvention®. Hara Arena has been facing long-standing financial problems — including unpaid property taxes. Renovations promised for the 2016 Hamvention never materialized.
Hamvention attracted more than 25,000 visitors this spring and is worth millions of dollars to the Dayton area economy.
The Wampler family has owned and operated Hara Arena since its humble origins in the 1950s, when Wampler Ballarena — then a dance hall and now an exhibit hall familiar to Hamvention visitors — was built in what had been a family-owned orchard.