What is the future of the Dayton Convention Center?

DAYTON, Ohio (December 2017) – Recently, the city of Dayton announced it has formed a special task force to review the background, uses, finances and governing structure of the Dayton Convention Center. This task force, made up of a wide variety of community leaders, will look closely at the future of this building and make recommendations to the Dayton City Commission by April 2018.

Originally built in 1973, the 150,000 square-foot center at Fifth and Main Streets downtown is attached to an enclosed 1,416-space parking garage. Renovations on the convention center occurred in both 1988 and 2000. The building and attached garage are owned by the city and its operations are primarily funded by parking and user fees and a local hotel/motel bed tax which is typical of most facilities. However, in recent years the convention center has run at a deficit and has required additional funding from the city.

Perhaps the biggest question the task force must grapple with is if a facility of this size is needed in our region and if so, how will we as a community use it, maintain it and fund it. If the group sees no need for its use, then they should recommend its disposal to city leaders.

These may not be easy questions to answer and all options should clearly be open for discussion. The task force must look at economic benefits and as if they warrant the ongoing sustainability of the structure and its use.

In full disclosure, city leadership has asked both city Commissioner Chris Shaw and me to co-chair this task force. Chris, a local business owner and elected city leader, is an obvious choice and will ultimately have a direct pipeline to his fellow commissioners once a recommendation is made. I, on the other hand, was concerned about the possibility of a conflict of interest in the deliberations since the chamber leases space (and has done so since 1988) from the city for its offices. I have tried to fully vet that issue with the city leaders and my board in order to protect the decision-making process.

Whatever the case, whether it be to demolish the facility; sell it for reuse; or create a plan to sustain it, the task force must work together to deliver recommendations that are both pertinent to the future success of downtown and our region and how the city can be good stewards of public tax dollars.

The group, once it reports to the city leadership, will be open and transparent with its decision and methodology.

To download a PDF of this article as it appeared in the Dayton Daily News, click here.

Phillip L. Parker, CAE, CCE

President & CEO

Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce