At City Barbeque in Beavercreek, there are typical nights and then there are Nutter Center nights.
Sales at the barbeque restaurant jump by as much as $1,000 a night when the Wright State Nutter Center hosts a concert, conference or other large event.
“It’s not a big surprise to end up with a line at the door before we close up shop,” said Bryan Chappell, general manager at City Barbeque. “It makes for a very interesting evening very quick. You start calling in the troops.”
The Nutter Center is an economic engine for the region, putting money into the pockets of motels, shops and restaurants.
“The economic impact is the No. 1 thing for the community,” said Jim Brown, executive director of the Nutter Center.
From March 20 to April 30, the Nutter Center hosted 48 events in 33 days. The events drew 73,000 people and produced $1.3 million in ticket sales.
“That’s pretty huge,” said Brown.
On one weekend in April alone, the Nutter Center hosted a baseball card show on the concourse, set up for and hosted a Mac Miller concert, staged a three-day basketball tournament and hosted Taste of Greene County, in which about two dozen local restaurants offered tastes of their cuisine.
“Wright State University’s Nutter Center is a major part of the county’s travel and tourism infrastructure,” said Kathleen Young, executive director of the Greene County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The Nutter Center draws big numbers of overnighters. That translates into very positive economic impact.”
For the past 17 years, Jehovah’s Witnesses from Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky have come to the Nutter Center for their annual district convention. They fill the arena on Friday-Saturday-Sunday over four weekends. This year, the convention drew an estimated 30,000 people and pumped $14.1 million into the local economy.
The Winter Guard World Championships are held at the Nutter Center for two weekends each year, drawing an estimated 2,000 people.
“You’ll have teams from California, Colorado. They come from all over,” Brown said. “That’s really free publicity and advertising for Wright State University.”
The championships, which also use arenas at the University of Dayton and Xavier University, attract about 40,000 people and bring in about $15 million to Greene and Montgomery counties.
“Certainly when we’re looking at some of the larger citywide events that use multiple venues, they have a tremendous impact in what they are able to bring in,” said Jacqui Powell, president and CEO of the Dayton/Montgomery County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The Nutter Center is also Wright State’s front porch, introducing the university to many potential students.
The arena hosted 14 high school graduations last spring, drawing 6,000 graduates and 45,000 spectators. The schools pay $3,000 apiece to rent the arena.
“That’s part of our outreach for the university,” Brown said. “We want to plant that seed that Wright State is the place to go for the siblings.”
“If I’m a sophomore and my older brother or sister is graduating and I’m sitting there thinking ‘I would like to be a doctor,’ the Wright State Boonshoft School of Medicine is right there,” Brown added.
The nearby athletic fields are advertisements for Wright State’s extracurriculars as well as its athletic trainers program.
The Nutter Center and Wright State also enjoy spinoff from the annual Air Force Marathon, hosting both a 5K run and the Sport and Fitness Expo featuring scores of exhibitors displaying the latest developments in sports, fitness and nutrition.
Brown said the 5K and expo demonstrate Wright State’s involvement with the military and help recruit both traditional and non-traditional students by introducing people with a wide range of ages, backgrounds and hometowns to the campus.
The marathon and related races attract about 35,000 runners and supporters from around the world and make a $12.7 million splash in the local economy.
Nutter Center events can also strengthen the support of donors and alumni.
“If you’re an alumnus of Wright State, you’re proud that people are coming through that building,” Brown said.