When Day Air Ballpark was in the planning stages, a rationale for city investment was to spur investment in downtown Dayton. That development didn’t happen when the ballpark opened for the 2000 season, but since then the Dragons have been one of the top-performing teams in Minor League Baseball, setting a record for most consecutive sellout games and providing leadership in the local community.
But eventually growth caught up to the ballpark, which was attracting big crowds nightly to downtown. First came the apartments for the younger people wanting to live downtown, then came the bars and retail establishments to serve those downtown residents. Now, downtown Dayton in the ballpark area is finally turning into the economic player the city and the team anticipated, per the Dayton Daily News:
While some vacancies remain, areas that were retail and commercial dead zones around Day Air Ballpark and in the Fire Blocks District are coming back to life with new restaurants and shops. Downtown has so much energy right now because of new housing, dining, drinking, shopping and entertainment options, said Sandy Gudorf, president of the Downtown Dayton Partnership….
Yes, a payoff 20 years later may not seem important–but it is a payoff, nevertheless.