The 5,500-seat multi-purpose arena that once was home to Dayton Jets basketball team and Dayton Gems, Dayton Blue Hawks, Dayton Owls, Dayton Bombers, Dayton Ice Bandits, Dayton Demonz, and Dayton Demolition ice hockey teams has officially announced it’s closing.
“We are painfully aware of the loss this announcement will generate, which is why we have fought so long and hard to prevent it,” says Karen Wampler, Hara’s marketing director.
The site was originally the family-owned fruit orchard of Harold and Ralph Wampler.The name stems from HA from Harold and RA from Ralph. In 1956, the Wampler Ballroom was erected, which still stands today in the six-building complex. The arena itself opened in 1964. The original plans did not include an ice rink, but were changed to accommodate the Dayton Gems who were looking for a home arena. The complex now spans 165,000 square feet (15,300 m2) which consists of the main arena, four exhibition halls, a conference center, a pub and a golf course.
This arena is where Wayne Gretzky played his first professional hockey game; a pre-season game between the Indianapolis Racers and the Cincinnati Stingers, on September 27, 1978. Hara was also the home to Sesame Street Live®, L Monster Truck Winter Nationals®, the Midwest Ceramics Show®, The Miami Valley Home Improvement Show, The National Holiday Gift Show and a host of others. In May and October of 2004, Hara was twice bestowed the honor of a Presidential visit from President George W. Bush.
Long the home to The Dayton Hamvention®, we expect an announcement from them shortly. This annual convention brought thousands of visitors to the Miami Valley each year. Hamvention organizers shared that it brought an economic impact at somewhere between $10 and $20 million during the three-day event.