Hall sees visitor spike
SOUTH BEND - The patch of turf in front of the College Football Hall of Fame is a place for grownups to relive the good old days and for children to dream about creating memories of their own.
That is just one of the things that Adam Doyle likes about the museum, and one reason why he will hate to see it leave.
"I really think that it will be a shame when the hall of fame leaves," Doyle said as he watched his two sons play with several other boys. "There is so much nostalgia and tradition with Notre Dame, and I think that this is the perfect spot for the hall."
Doyle said he enjoys bringing his sons to the hall. The facility's eventual departure to Atlanta has not tempered his enjoyment of it.
"My kids are out here a lot during the week and especially during the weekend," said Doyle, from Bremen.
Doyle has a lot of company, according to Lisa Klunder, the hall's executive director.
She said attendance is actually running about 5,000 visitors ahead of the projected 80,000, Klunder said.
The hall remains a must-see attraction for fans visiting South Bend on home football game weekends. Those fans go inside to check out the exhibits as well as to buy items from the gift shop.
Many pull out footballs to toss on the field or to attempt to kick through the uprights.
Many of those visitors have a connection with the University of Notre Dame. Kirsten Damore of North Carolina, for instance, said her daughter's grandfather is a ND alum.
It seems natural for the hall to be in South Bend, Damore said.
"There is a lot of history with Notre Dame football, and it seems like a great place to have a hall of fame," Damore said while relaxing with her daughter on the turf.
Jamie Wheat, a Mississippi State University student and stepson of a Notre Dame graduate, played catch with a friend. Wheat said this was his first visit to the hall.
"I love it," he said. "This is like my Graceland."
The museum will be much closer to Wheat when it relocates. That means he would be able to visit more often.
"I don't get to Atlanta (that often), but it would be closer," Wheat said. "That would be great for us, I guess."
Staff writer Howard Dukes: firstname.lastname@example.org 574-235-6369