Dayton gives up convention center ownership after nearly 50 years

A rendering of what the interior of the renovated Dayton Convention Center could look like. CONTRIBUTED

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A rendering of what the interior of the renovated Dayton Convention Center could look like. CONTRIBUTED

The city of Dayton will relinquish control of the Dayton Convention Center this week after 48 years of ownership, marking a new era for a property that officials say is vital to the local tourism industry and the economy.

“I’m excited for the future,” Dayton City Commissioner Chris Shaw said earlier this month.

Dayton city commissioners recently approved a couple of agreements to transfer ownership and operational control of the property to the Montgomery County Convention Facilities Authority.

Dayton has owned and operated the convention center since it was built in 1973, which is rare for a city of its size.

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A rendering of renovations to the Dayton Convention Center. CONTRIBUTED

A rendering of renovations to the Dayton Convention Center. CONTRIBUTED

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A rendering of renovations to the Dayton Convention Center. CONTRIBUTED

But the city’s last day of ownership will be Wednesday.

The facilities authority plans to invest millions of dollars into the convention center for a multi-phase renovation. The authority already has announced it has hired a company, ASM Global, to oversee day-to-day management of the center.

The improvements will be paid for using a new 3% tax on motel and hotel stays in Montgomery County.

The Dayton City Commission also approved a cooperative agreement to provide the facilities authority 100% of the revenue from its 3% lodgings tax.

The city estimates it will pay the facilities authority about $45 million through the length of the agreement, which expires at the end of 2060.

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The Dayton Convention Center in downtown Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The Dayton Convention Center in downtown Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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The Dayton Convention Center in downtown Dayton. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

The city also approved a ground lease agreement with the facilities authority that will last for an initial period of 40 years but will have a pair of 40 year renewal periods.

“This sets forth the conditions of asset transfer and the obligations of both the city and the (convention facilities authority),” said LaShea Lofton, Dayton’s deputy city manager.

The facilities authority has agreed to pay the city more than $692,000 through the end of 2025 to cover its debt payments related to improvements made to the convention center in 2011.

After that, the facilities authority will pay the city only about $1 per year through the life of the agreement to rent the land the convention center sits upon.

The facilities authority will receive ownership of the facilities, equipment, improvements and the skywalk over East Fifth Street.

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

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