SBD/August 20, 2014/Facilities

College Football HOF Set To Open Saturday, With Budget Met Via Sponsorships

Ticket sales for the HOF are projected in the $6-7M range annually
The new $68.5M The College Football HOF and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience will open Saturday "on schedule and on budget" as only $1M of public money was used to construct the facility and the additional costs were "raised through sponsorship dollars and private donations," according to Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The Atlanta museum is "down to its last two major pieces of sponsorship inventory, and when those are sold, the attraction will have the commitments it needs to pay off the 94,256-square-foot building." The HOF "projects 500,000 visitors a year, an ambitious number compared to the halls for other sports, where 200,000 to 300,000 a year is the norm." Ticket sales are "projected to account" for 60-70% of the estimated $10M in annual revenue. The HOF is "pushing all of the sponsorship revenue toward paying for the building, so none of that money is included in the annual budget." If it "hits its visitor goals -- adult tickets run $19.99 each -- it will make a tidy profit." The "break-even point is around 380,000 annual visitors." Coke "sponsors a gallery on game-day traditions" and Kia "brought in a specially designed car with a drop-down TV and built-in grill for tailgating." College Football HOF presenting sponsor Chick-fil-A has its "name on multiple elements." The "two major spaces remaining without a sponsor are the 150-seat theater and the 45-yard field with a goalpost." The HOF "wouldn’t comment on the value of specific deals, but the 15 sponsorships sold so far went for a wide range, starting in the mid-to-high six figures for official partners to more than seven figures a year" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/18 issue).

KIDS IN THE HALL: USA TODAY's Larry Copeland noted the HOF itself is a "dome-like structure evocative of a cathedral." The players' names, playing years and school are "etched in stately, tall glass panels on the wall of the circular-shaped room." In the center of the room will "stand 10 huge television screens with interactive consoles where visitors can learn everything they want to know about any player." When visitors pay their admission, they "can register with their name, email address and their favorite school." That information "will be encoded on an RFID chip in their plastic ticket" so whenever they "approach an attraction that features a player from their school, the chip will alert them" (USATODAY, 8/17).

FIELD DAY: CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Solomon noted fans will "enter the museum through a tunnel as if you're walking onto a field." Large-paneled photographs of the previous year's conference champions will "greet you as you hear the click-clack of cleats walking in the tunnel." The crowd noise will "intensify as you near the end of the tunnel." What follows next is a "40-foot-high wall with more than 700 football helmets representing every Division I, Division II, Division III and NAIA program." Sports manufacturer Schutt "made the helmets," but had contracts with "only about 200 schools." So for the remaining teams, helmets "got painted with the right color," and a HOF intern "spent six months asking every school for one set of helmet stickers." The 45-yard field "spanning 15,000 square feet will feature various activities on a daily basis." Fans can "try to kick a field goal, test your throwing accuracy, and complete an obstacle course." Above the field is a "massive video screen that will show live games and highlights." When the field is not used during normal hours, it can "accommodate 900 people for a sit-down meal and up to 1,450 for a reception." College Football HOF President & CEO John Stephenson said that the field is "one of four areas the Hall will rent out for private events, and it has 35 such contracts so far" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/15). In Atlanta, Wenk & Saporta note it will take an average of one hour and 45 minutes "for a person to weave through" the museum. The previous College Football HOF in South Bend was "arranged chronologically," but the Atlanta facility "groups everything by topic." For example, "one gallery highlights the game-day experience, including marching bands, mascots and cheerleaders." Stephenson: “It’s totally different from South Bend" (ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE, 8/15 issue).
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