A New Location

The emerging differences between the University of Dayton and the City of Dayton are most clear in the events leading to the final determination of the arena’s location. According to Frericks, the school had no problem with the city’s plan and ultimately offered to contribute $2 million dollars (approximately $15 million in inflation adjusted 2018 dollars) to the construction of a downtown multipurpose venue with the understanding that Flyers’ home game schedules would take priority over any other activities. But as early as the planning meeting on July 28, 1967 Frericks had raised several concerns with building downtown. Construction would be expensive, it was unclear that there would be sufficient parking, the arena might need to be smaller than Frericks had hoped, and there was concern about the accessibility of the location for students and alumni. Following this initial meeting the city ran into problems of its own.

Dayton Daily News, Frericks Scrapbook, University of Dayton Archive and Special Collections, University of Dayton

Following this initial meeting the city ran into problems of its own. Efforts to authorize an increase in local income taxes to pay for the construction failed, leading some officials to believe that such an expensive project should not be located in a prime downtown location. Daytonians also raised questions about the legality of a city partnering economically with a private institution. “The church-state thing seemed to frighten some people downtown,” Frericks later recalled. [40] Talk of building another multi-use facility located between Jefferson, Fifth Street, and Main Street further muddied the waters. 
In early September Frericks said the university wanted to look at a different location and build a single purpose venue. Since the initial meeting in July, Frericks had been at work behind the scenes trying to find a place better suited for the university, one that the university would not have to share with the city. His eyes fixed upon land further south of downtown, on the western banks of the Miami River but close to the campus. The land had once been a mine requisitioned in the wake of the Great Flood of 1913 to bury the bodies of hundreds of horses left festering in the streets of the city. Since then the land along the river had been under the control of the Miami Conservancy. [42] By the end of the summer of 1967 Frericks had formulated an arrangement with UD alumnus and basketball booster Horace J. Boesch Sr., a local real estate investor, that would give the university its preferred location. Boesch held a largely vacant tract of land further south on the eastern side of the Miami River from the location eyed for the arena. [46] With Frericks’ encouragement Boesch agreed to seek a swap of his properties for that owned by the Miami Conservancy with the provision that he would then donate 4.6 acres of that land to the university to build the new facility.
Soon after Frericks suggestion, on September 10th the Dayton Daily ran an article that announced the university request was something closer to an ultimatum.  “UD: Downtown Arena Out.” The proposal was coolly received by some city officials. Weeks passed as papers ran headlines such as “Commission Lack Unity on UD Arena Concept.” The proposal was a problem for the city for a number of reasons. Some disliked the way the university appeared to be forcing their hand and upsetting the downtown renewal designs. Also, clustered behind this land were three relatively poor minority neighborhoods: Carillon, Edgemon, and Five Points.

The foreground of this photo shows the lands east of the Miami River owned by NCR. Welcome Stadium can be seen across the river, and the location being eyed for the arena just to the north. “Aerial View of NCR Dayton” Source: Frericks Scrapbook, University of Dayton Archive and Special Collections, University of Dayton.

Homeowners adjacent to Conservancy’s property were concerned about the increase congestion and noise that the arena would produce. In 1949 the Dayton Public School System built the 10,000 seat Welcome Stadium to host football and track events [43]. The building of that structure had elicited a fight between the city and local communities. As early as March of 1967—in the midst of the Flyers’ NCAA run—the writer of an editorial sent to The Journal Herald argued that cities should be eager to support universities in much the same way they did businesses because of universities’ benefits to their communities. The editorial author stated that the city of Dayton could do that by selling Welcome Stadium to UD. [44] Attempts to link the sale of the Welcome Stadium and the land to build the proposed Arena were resisted by many. [45] The sale of Welcome Stadium never came to pass, although in 1974 UD partnered with the Dayton City Schools’ Board to recondition the stadium and the university’s teams began to play there.
Finally, the University “request” that the city consider other locations and for a “single purpose” building led to an indecisive 2-2-1 vote by the City Commission on October 11, 1967. Mayor Hall was forced to tell the University that the city was uninterested “in operating an arena not located downtown” or backing a single purpose facility. [41]
Fericks may have welcomed the outcome of the October vote because he wanted the university to be the sole owner of the building and believed UD was in a position to reject the city’s plan and still get their financial. However, leveraging his position had endangered the cities willingness to cooperation on other essential aspects of his plan. The city had to agree to the swap, approve the planned use of the land, push through new zoning ordinance, and insure that the remaining 30 acres of land held by the Conservancy could be developed into arena parking. Then he still needed public financing to get the building done. It was a great deal to ask of the city which Frericks and the University had just spurned in the downtown plan.

Dayton Daily News, Frericks Scrapbook, University of Dayton Archive and Special Collections, University of Dayton

Over the next month disagreement over the matter in the city commission developed into a very public fight. Undoubtedly disappointed by the university’s decision of an alternative location for the arena, in mid-October of 1967 Mayor Dave Hall clearly felt that city officials still were not in either a political or economic position to reject Frericks’ plan. In addition, letters sent between Frericks and members of the Miami Conservancy, it was evident that public officials agreed to the plan because they felt it would provide a stimulus to the local economy. [47] However, others were less happy by the feeling UD was forcing their hand. Through the rest of October and much of November papers featured headlines such as “Commissioner Wine Criticizes Mayor Hall’s Comments on the Arena.” Commission Member Joseph D. Wine argued “the Mayor was trying to ‘railroad’ the UD proposal through the city commission.” [48]

Ultimately, under growing pressure, in November the board agreed to a future vote on plans that would allow UD to build. Weeks later Commission members Joseph D. Wine, Robert L. Schel, and backed by Mayor Dave Hall, swayed the vote 3-2 for the arena to be located southwest of Welcome Stadium [49] In the end city officials could not pass-up the opportunity to extract revenue from UD’s plan for a good cause by turning over the remaining 30 acres held by the Miami Conservancy over to the Dayton Public School system. In this way, parking fees charged at stadium events would provide money for the schools . The university would pay for the asphalt on which the cars parked and the public schools the land below it. [50]