Thursday, March 3, 2011

College Football Hall of Fame Headed to Atlanta

            First and goal, Atlanta!  No not the Falcons this time, but the NCAA College Football Hall of Fame will be relocated to Atlanta in March of 2013.   Currently situated in South Bend, IN the facility will move within walking distance of The World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium.   The 50,000-square-foot facility will be close to the Georgia Dome and Philips Arena, across the street from Centennial Olympic Park and taking over space at this time used by Centennial's Green Parking Lot.   With half of the cities tourists on the move in the area of this site is looking to bring in around 500,000 college football fans every year.   Nearly 2 million sports fans go to sporting events each year at the nearby Philips Arena and Georgia Dome, and Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium is just a short two miles down the street from both arenas.   The aquarium has drawn more than 10 million visitors since its opening in 2005.Atlanta is trying to bring on the title of Sport’s capital of the South.  With huge events every year including the SEC football championship game, the Chick-fil-a Bowl and having the Super Bowl and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship all in Atlanta, the sky’s the limit for the Hall and to bring tourists in around the year.  
            With a price tag of around $50 million, local management group Atlanta Hall Management says that $31 million has already been raised.     Atlanta officials have not provided the city’s official offer, in spite of frequent requests.   What is known is that it includes $5 million from the Chick-fil-A Bowl, $5 million from Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, $1 million grant from the Atlanta Development Authority and $10 million from the state of Georgia in general obligation bonds.  Also part of the deal will be a yearly amount of $700,000 to the Georgia World Congress Center where the building is proposed to be built in its green lot.   
            Steve Ethier has been named chief operating officer of Atlanta Hall Management, Inc., the newly formed non-profit organization created to construct and run the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.   Ethier will be responsible for day-to-day supervision of the Hall's design and its building progression.   He will then changeover to operating the facility once it is completed in early 2013 with the possibility of opening as soon as the fall of 2012.
            “As we move forward in the design and construction process, there is a need for an experienced leader to shape our collective vision into reality," Gary Stokan, President and CEO of Atlanta Hall Management and the Chick-fil-A Bowl.   “We have every belief that Steve is the right choice and are looking forward to the knowledge he will bring to this project.”
            Said Ethier, “I am eagerly looking forward to the opportunity to be part of such a vibrant project.   I share the same vision that, together, we will provide a unique experience among the very best in the country to showcase the rich history and long tradition of college football to the nation.”
            During the estimated two-year building process, the College Football Hall of Fame development will create an projected $91 million in profitable impact for Georgia, while creating an anticipated 884 jobs in the downtown Atlanta are and will produce an estimated $4.9 million in state taxes for Georgia.   The production period is also likely to generate $1.8 million in city tax revenue for Atlanta a study put together by Central Atlanta Progress.  The first phase of construction is slated to begin in August 2011.    
            “This will be an enormous financial bonus for Atlanta and Georgia at a time when no one else is creating jobs,” Stokan said.  “It will also provide a new tax revenue stream at a time when state sales tax revenues have declined.”  In the bidding process Atlanta beat out Dallas who said they didn’t want take tax payers money of front to pay for the project.  When Atlanta’s bid hit the table members were shocked to see that the proposal had already had a majority of the backing from the state of Georgia’s biggest companies including Coke and Chick-fil-a in order to bring the Hall of Fame to Atlanta.  The addition of the Hall is on the strong feelings that the economy is on the way up and with the addition of jobs, Atlanta will be thriving bigger than ever. 
            The structure is to have a spoke-and-wheel design that will let visitors choose which direction they would like to go once they enter into the main atrium of the Hall.  The exterior will resemble a football, including its texture.   The Hall will have a 3-D theater, stadium style lighting, and a broadcast facility.  ESPN is to provide content, along with a big screen for college game day and ESPN college football game.  The big screens will also show live games of events being played in Philips Arena and the Georgia Dome.  Fans will be enjoying more of an attraction atmosphere over the usual tourist attraction.  After hearing about the big news one Atlanta resident was ecstatic to hear the Hall was coming.  “I’ve always been a huge football fan especially college,” Georgia State student Brian Rodgers.  “I hope they have a season pass to this place so that I can go every week!  It really makes me feel good as a resident of Georgia to have the honor to have the Hall of Fame in our backyard.” 
            The hall will even have a home state taste to it including thirty two players from Georgia schools are already in the prestigious Hall of Fame including Herschel Walker, Vince Dooley, and Charlie Trippi.  For those locally in the state who haven’t yet enjoyed the 60 flavors of coke you can sample across the street at the World of Coca-Cola or seen the beautiful Beluga Whales next door at the Georgia Aquarium, make sure that you get your fix with all three attractions in the great city of Atlanta.  Up for consideration to open in late 2011 is Museum for Civil & Human Rights.  With the tremendous amount of work that is being put into the city the Hall of Fame should feel right at home along side all these other great venues.  There is no doubt that the Hall belongs in the South.

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