Residents react with sadness over Hara closing

Local residents reflected on decades of music and entertainment memories as Dayton Hara Arena & Exhibition Center closes its door for good.

The Hara Arena will host its last event on Aug. 27, taking with it a $36 million annual economic impact, officials announced Friday.

For some, the closure of Hara Arena feels like memories slipping away. John Fox, a resident of New Carlisle, said he saw at least 75 concerts at the venue. Fox recalled seeing Nirvana and Van Halen concerts there, and spending summers at the car shows with his parents.

“Venues have just changed so much, and that was such a good one,” he said. ” I’m really sad to hear about it. It’s just a lot of good memories. I had so much fun there.”

Fox passed on the tradition of summer spent at the Hara by taking his daughter to her first concert there.

Montgomery County Commissoner Judy Dodge said she is confident in the existing venues in the Dayton region, and the region will need to work to accommodate various events.

“Hara Arena has a long and proud history of hosting thousands of events over the past six decades and creating wonderful memories for so many people, including me,” she said. “It is unfortunate that circumstances have led to the decision by the Wampler Family to close the facility.”

Hara was one of the few family-owned venues of its kind. The well-known venue brought sports, concerts, entertainment and special interest shows to the Miami Valley for more than 60 years, but ultimately could not overcome an internal legal battle that has spanned the last two decades, according to Hara officials.

John Hodges, a promoter for the Die Cast Collectors Show, will host one last show at Hara on Aug. 21. It was feature more than 100 displays of Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Johnny Lightning die cast collectibles.

He said the promoters who have regularly hosted events at Hara Arena were not given much notice about the closure. Now, they’re looking for a new space to house events.

“Finding a building to host such an event is kind of difficult for us,” Hodges said. “We’re going to miss the arena. Besides just the shows, we went to the circus, car shows, concerts. We loved it.”

Jim Broughton, of Jim & Dan Promotions, has displayed comic books, toys and other collectibles at the arena for about two years. Now, he’s also looking for a new place to host events.

“As with time, everything moves on,” he said. “We all have fond memories there.”

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