Dayton Convention Center to get $35M in upgrades, repairs

The Dayton Convention Center might not see a full recovery until 2024, but it has secured $35 million in financing for improvements that should help grow the number of events it hosts and foot traffic, officials said.

“There’s lots of good things happening,” said Pam Plageman, executive director of the Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority.

Credit: Chuck Hamlin

Credit: Chuck Hamlin

Next year, the facility at 22 E. Fifth St. is expected to take in about $1.5 million in revenue — or roughly about 75% of 2019′s collections, Plageman said.

The convention center was shut down from early 2020 to May 1, 2021, due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, except when it hosted vaccination clinics.

But Plageman said the venue booked 39 events this year, and next year it will host a some major events, including a few that were on a pandemic-related hiatus.

The facility will welcome the Cincinnati-Dayton RV Show in January; Jurassic Quest in February; the YWCA Women of Influence in March; Color Guard World Championships in April; and A World A’Fair in May.

Plageman said the convention center should see a full recovery by 2024, and revenues should exceed pre-pandemic levels when the facility is renovated.

The convention center expects to close on a $25 million loan later this month, Plageman said, and its board earlier this year approved issuing $10 million in bonds. This funding will pay for repairs and upgrades.

Right now, the facility’s lobby is being refreshed and its kitchen is being revamped, Plageman said, and improvements have been made to the mechanical and electrical systems

She said big changes are expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2022 and early in 2023.

The facility’s entrance will get a facelift, and it’s likely the trademark circular metal structure out front will be removed and new glass, green space and a terrace will be added.

Inside, there will be a new flex hall, ballroom and pre-function space, but these can be opened up to create one large space for trade shows, meetings and banquets.

“In addition, we have invested in brand new mobile telescoping seating/bleachers for sports shows, spectator events and general sessions,” Plageman said.

The facility could get a new restaurant concept along East Fifth Street, possibly one that functions as a cafe during the day and a bar at night.

Russell Kline, special projects manager with the Montgomery County Facilities Authority, said the economic impact of the center could more than double once it is renovated and its space is optimized.

He also said the improvements could more than double the amount of support staff who work at the facility.

“We’re seeing pretty significant changes,” he said.

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