By Kevin Werner, News Staff
The financially-strapped Canadian Football Hall of Fame is looking to relocate its museum to the city’s new Tim Hortons Field.
“It’s an option that we are looking at,” said Mountain councillor Scott Duvall, who is also the city’s representative on the Hall of Fame board. “We know we have to be better.”
In an email, the hall of fame's executive director said although the city provides the organization a rent-free building, it has received no money from the municipality to date. The hall has three full-time staff members.
Mark DeNobile also noted that any agreement to relocate the hall must be ratified by both the city and the CFL.
"The relocation of the Hall of Fame in any way rests with the City of Hamilton and the CFL agreeing on any arrangement," said DeNobile. "The CFL is a partner in the original Hall of Fame agreement signed in 1968."
At a June 24 board meeting, Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr, who is also a city representative on the Hall of Fame board, said executives are considering revenue generating measures to improve the facility’s financial situation. Ideas include providing free admission during Grey Cup weekends to boost merchandise sales, closing one day per week, such as Tuesday, and focusing on generating revenue and improved marketing opportunities.
The Hall of Fame board’s proposal, said Farr, is to relocate the museum portion of the hall to a 2,000-square-foot “’Caretakers’ Lounge” at Tim Hortons Field. It would be turned into a multi-purpose room on non-Tiger-Cat game days, said Farr.
City staff will conduct the internal review and decide if it’s feasible. Politicians confirmed the future of the relocation will reside with council.
The Hall of Fame has provided to city financial staff its 2013 audited financial statements, and revenue projections for this year.
“We have nothing to hide,” said Farr. “We are open and transparent. This is not a unique position. It’s a tough go.”
The Canadian Football League also provides $85,000 annually to the facility, which was built on the current site beside city hall in 1972. Hamilton was awarded the hall in 1963 after a lobbying effort by former mayor Lloyd Jackson. The city owns the building and land where the hall is located, but the CFL has jurisdiction over the estimated 30,000 museum items in its possession.