Winter Guard International is moving, but staying in the same city and committed to keeping its world championships - which bring in about $28 million for the local economy - in the Dayton region.
The organization whose top events bring in ten of thousands visitors and fill hundreds of hotels from Dayton to Cincinnati has signed a long-term lease for a new home closer to the Interstate 75/Austin Boulevard interchange, opting against a move to Springboro, CEO Ron Nankervis said.
“We like being south of Dayton proper,” Nankervis said of the Austin Business Park site being built on Byers Road. “This is a good space for us because of the makeup of our office staff.”
WGI has a five-year lease with an option for five more covering 12,000 square feet - about twice the size of its current location on Crosspointe Drive – of the 60,000 square foot building, Nankervis said.
The 10 years is roughly the same length of WGI’s deal to keep its world championships in Dayton, including a renewal option on that agreement, he said.
That deal came after a $72 million commitment to renovate the University of Dayton Arena, the WGI world championship’s main venue.
“Our challenge is finding enough facilities to handle the growing nature of our championships,” Nankervis said . “We have more and more groups wanting to come and so we need to find enough facilities to handle the competition because right now we’re using five different arenas.
But “the cooperation that we get from the Miami Valley in general is so great that we can’t replicate it anywhere else,” he added.
WGI also uses the Nutter Center at Wright State University, Hobart Arena in Troy, Cintas Center at Xavier University and BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University.
“We’re very happy here in Dayton and it’s our home and continues to be our home,” Nankervis said.
“We get very good support here,” he added. “And we’re actually discussing some long-term potential ideas in terms of cementing us here for longer than even 10 years.”
Not that WGI hasn’t been tempted to move its top event outside of Ohio, or acted even on it for that matter.
Since returning to Dayton after having the world championships in San Diego in 2004, Nankervis said, there have been courtships involving Indianapolis and Orlando.
“Last year we were considering a proposal by Walt Disney World to move our championships….We ultimately rejected that and signed up for another five years with the city of Dayton” with an option to renew for more five years, he said.
The preference for the Dayton area is “largely it’s due to the cooperation and the partnerships” WGI – which has held its top events here for 33 years - has developed, especially with the convention and visitors bureaus in Greene and Montgomery counties, Nankervis said.
Dayton/Montgoemery County Convention and Visitors Bureau President Jacquelyn Powell has said “we look forward to a partnership that will continue to grow for many years into the future” with WGI.
The city of Miamisburg has also been an ally and has approved an agreement to fund up to $10,000’s of WGI’s move. The organization has an annual payroll of about $750,000 and the city collects about $17,000 from it each year in income taxes, Development Director Chris Fine said.
WGI’s participants also “love coming here,” Nankervis said. “It’s much more than a tradition….it’s a way of life so much that people – when they fly into Dayton – don’t even need maps to get around anymore. They know the city inside and out after decades of coming here.”
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