No Middle Ground For Dayton Hall

Memorial Hall in Dayton, Ohio, has been closed since 2003 and there’s no indication that it will reopen any time soon, even if one local venue owner wants to use it to bring in more concerts.

Mick Montgomery, owner of the 200-capacity Canal Street Tavern, recently approached county officials with a proposal to turn the 2,500-seat venue into a usable space.

“To be honest with you, they weren’t really listening to any ideas that I had,” Montgomery told the Dayton Daily News. “They kept saying, ‘We’re saving all this money [for the county] by being closed.'”

When the county signed a non-compete agreement with the new $121 million Schuster Performing Arts Center, Memorial Hall was shuttered. If the county reopens the building, it faces a $300,000 to $350,000 annual bill for overhead costs. But if it tries to compensate by bringing in too many events, the county could be accused of violating the non-compete.

Any reuse of Memorial Hall “has to make sense for the community and has to make sense from an economic standpoint,” assistant county administrator Joe Tuss told the News.

The county reportedly paid a consulting firm $223,000 to come up with five options for Memorial Hall. One included renovating it into a $20 million local history musieum. Ultimately, the county found all proposals unfeasible, the paper said.

Montgomery said he is frustrated with bringing developing acts to Canal Street Tavern, then losing them on the return play to larger venues in the market.

The basement “cabaret would be open at least five nights a week, and as far as the [upstairs] theatre, I don’t think there would be any problem booking four to 12 shows a month right out of the box,” he told the paper.

The club owner could not be reached for further comment at press time.