TROTWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) – After six decades of music, hockey and Hamvention, Hara Arena is closing. The news is tugging at the heartstrings of locals, who’ve grown up attending events there, but time caught up with the arena, and money got tied up.
Hara Arena has played a strong role in Montgomery County for decades. Every year generating about $36 million for the local economy. City officials in Trotwood are especially concerned — since it’s here in their backyard — and they’re hoping the land here won’t go to waste.
It’s housed everything from sporting events to home shows. Most notably, Hamvention. The event for ham-radio enthusiasts generated about $21 million last year and drew a crowd of more than 27,000.
Karen Wampler–who’s family owns the arena–says its closing was inevitable. After years of fighting a legal battle with the IRS, it was finally time to call quits.
“Right now, the IRS has informed us that they will be moving to resolve the Harold Wampler debt,” Wampler said. “That’s why we have not been able to issue contracts. I know it’s created havoc.”
Wampler says doing so just wouldn’t have been right.
“In good conscience we could not issue contracts,” Wampler said. “Knowing how precarious our situation was.”
The decision to close came as a hard hit to Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald.
“Our hearts are saddened because of the loss of the venue in the City of Trotwood,” McDonald said. “It’s meant a lot to many of us. I grew up going to Hara Arena.”
And she’s not alone; comments poured in after we broke the news, viewers talking about their memories at Hara. Including, members of the Gem City Roller Derby league, who called the arena home for a decade.
“We’ve really enjoyed our time,” Megan Faragher said. “There and it’s sad for us to see Hara go.”
“It was a little bit shocking, but then I touched base with some of the other teammates,” Linda Broering said. “They already knew about it so it was a little more comforting.”