Dayton Convention Center to reopen. Upgrades coming soon.

The Dayton Convention Center will reopen in May after a year-long, pandemic-related hibernation and officials say the facility soon will look rejuvenated because of new upgrades and investment.

The convention center is expected to undergo a multi-phase and multi-million-dollar renovation to modernize the facility and give it a much-needed facelift, officials say.

The improvements could take place over the next four years.

A new convention facilities authority likely is weeks away from taking ownership of the property, and a management company has been selected to oversee the center’s day-to-day operations.

“We’re really working on enhancing services, technology and all of those things ... to really make the Dayton Convention Center the crown jewel of our community,” said Pam Plageman, executive director of the Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority, which will own and operate the property.

The Dayton Convention Center is slated to reopen on May 1, after closing in mid-March of last year because of the coronavirus crisis.

The convention center has 21 multi-day groups on the calendar for later this year after it reopens, and more events are being booked each week, officials said.

Even though it has been closed for events, the convention center has hosted COVID-19 vaccination clinics since December. The center recently was selected to be a state-run, long-term mass vaccination site.

The Dayton Convention Center now has a dedicated funding source to help pay for major renovations.

Late last year, the Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority approved a new 3% tax on hotel and motel stays to help improve the aging facility, which was built in 1973.

The facilities authority is developing a master plan for the convention center that should be ready in about 90 to 120 days, Plageman said.

The master plan process will include gathering community input, hiring an architectural firm and seeking approval from the facilities board, Plageman said.

But the facilities authority will address any urgent mechanical repairs and deferred maintenance needs, prior to reopening, she said.

The facilities authority is looking at potential mechanical and aesthetic improvements and roof and skywalk repairs, Plageman said.

Phase 1 and phase 2 of the convention center renovation could get underway this year, according to a preliminary timeline shared with city of Dayton leaders this week.

Phase 1 could include HVAC replacement, roof repairs and improvements to the lobby, restrooms and concierge desk.

Phase 2 could include replacing lobby furniture, fixtures, carpet, tile and other office equipment, including in the meeting rooms.

Credit: Chuck Hamlin

Credit: Chuck Hamlin

The proposed timeline says phase 1 could take place in 2021, and phase 2 could occur in 2021-2022.

Phase 3 (2022-2023) could include renovations to the exhibit hall and theater and exterior upgrades and enhancements. Officials say they might try to attract a “fast casual” food and beverage concept with street and lobby access.

Phase 4 (2023-2024) could convert some offices into meetings spaces and a portion of the exhibit space could become a new ballroom.

“I am just really excited to see these renderings and how the convention center opens up and becomes a much more attractive place for folks to come and visit,” said Dayton City Commissioner Chris Shaw, who has been involved in determining the future of the property.

The city has owned and operated the convention center since it opened, which is unusual for a community of its size.

The Dayton Convention Center offers 150,000 square feet of meeting space, a 77,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a full-service theatre, three ballrooms and 22 meeting rooms and spaces, officials say.

The convention facilities authority also recently selected ASM Global to oversee the management of the facility.

ASM Global is the world’s leading venue management and services company, and its clients include convention centers in Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus, officials say.

In coming weeks, the city of Dayton is expected to vote on transferring the convention center property to the facilities authority.

The city expects March 31 will be its final day of ownership.

City leaders also are expected to vote on legislation to amend how its hotel/motel taxes are allocated, so the revenues go to the facilities authority.

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