Another $15 million needed for College Hall
Fundraisers for the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta
are facing a tough deadline to raise $15 million if construction is
to begin in February as scheduled.
In this economy, that’s a major challenge and the reason Gary
Stokan said he is stepping down as president and CEO of the Atlanta
Stokan said Atlanta needs a full-time expert in corporate
fundraising and he needs to focus on his duties as the head of the
Chick-fil-A Bowl. He used a football analogy to describe the
critical stage of the city’s drive to have the Hall of Fame move
from South Bend, Ind.
”We’ve got the thing to the red zone and now I’m in my busiest
time of the year with the bowl game,” Stokan told The Associated
Press. ”So to get the rest done by February, they need somebody to
focus on the fundraising. I’m not a corporate CEO so I don’t have
the kind of ability to get other corporate CEOs to help fund this
thing, so I think in the short term we need that.”
Stokan announced Monday he is leaving his post with the hall
”My job with the hall was to get it to where we could get it
opened,” Stokan said. ”That took getting a site, raising money,
getting a ground lease, legislating for state money, and then along
with that was getting all the architects and designers and
development people and the staff all together.”
Stokan said the go-ahead to break ground in February awaits only
the final $15 million needed for the $50 million project. There
already has been one delay.
The Atlanta group originally targeted construction to begin in
August and the facility to open in the spring of 2013. If work can
begin in February, the Hall of Fame would open in September
The National Football Foundation, which owns the rights to the
Hall of Fame, announced plans to move the hall to Atlanta in 2009.
The foundation’s president and CEO, Steve Hatchell, said Wednesday
he remains optimistic about the project.
”We are excited about the future of the College Football Hall
of Fame in Atlanta, and we anticipate that this is going to be a
huge success,” Hatchell said in a prepared statement.
It’s uncertain if the project would be endangered by another
The state of Georgia has committed to bonds totaling $10
million. The city of Atlanta has pledged $8 million from its
economic development fund as well as tax credits. The project has
corporate funding from Coca-Cola and Chick-fil-A.
The hall has been plagued by low attendance in South Bend, but
Atlanta officials project a half-million visitors a year at the new
facility. It will be built adjacent to the city’s massive
convention center and Centennial Olympic Park. The location also is
near the Georgia Dome, home of the Atlanta Falcons, and Philips
Arena, home of the NBA Atlanta Hawks.
Stokan said completing the fundraising campaign will be a
challenge, but he said he’s confident Atlanta’s corporate community
will come through.
”You’re not able to give any assets to those corporate sponsors
until after the hall is opened, so it’s a tough economy, no doubt
about it, but I think Atlanta will rise to the occasion,” Stokan
said. ”We’ve done it in the past. We have a history of doing that
and we’ll get this $15 million raised and get this Hall
Steve Robinson, chairman of the board of Atlanta Hall
Management, is taking Stokan’s role until a new CEO is hired.
Stokan said he never intended to have a long-term role with the
hall. He said he recently was offered his first long-term contract
after 14 years with the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
”That’s where my passion is,” Stokan said. ”I didn’t have any
delusions of grandeur that I was going to run a facility. That’s
not my core competency and not what I want to do. I was just there
to get it opened and somebody else was going to come in and run it
day to day.”