The National Football Foundation and the city of South Bend have had a tumultuous relationship for years. But now that the College Football Hall of Fame says it will be gone for good by December, what will move into that building?
Downtown South Bend Executive Director Aaron Perri said lots of options are on the table but right now the city has no takers. Redevelopment Director Scott Ford said the city is looking at both long and short term potential uses for the building and has already had "informal conversations with local entities" about those potential uses.
The Redevelopment Commission's goal, Ford said, is to have a tentative plan in place by fall and present that plan to the mayor before the end of the year.
But at least one downtown business owner said he’s frustrated with the lack of information.
Inside the Hall Monday, it was clear Jersey Mike’s is a downtown lunch time favorite.
But owner Bob Guros told WSBT he’s been caught in the back and forth between the city and the NFF for nearly three years.
“It’s been a guessing game, almost month-by-month as to what’s going to happen,” Guros said. “And the latest is that they’re going to be leaving by the end of the year but I just don’t know for sure because I’ve heard that before.”
His lease with the city isn’t up until the end of 2015, and when he or his attorney have asked the city what will happen to his franchise if the Hall of Fame leaves or if the city sells the building before then, Guros said he can’t get any answers.
“The city has told me nothing. I hate to be that blunt, but nobody has said anything to me,” he added.
Perri said potential buyers have inquired about and been through the building, but nobody is ready to sign on the dotted line yet.
It will take a unique user to fill the 56,000 square foot building, which is about the size of a football field, he said.
“It was built as a museum, it would be well-suited to get some other type of museum use in there,” Perri continued.
When asked about the building being used as office space, Perri replied, “I think we have plenty of that down here.”
Perri also added that the city still doesn’t know exactly when the Hall is leaving, even though the NFF President said over the weekend it would be gone by the end of the year.
Common Councilman David Varner, who has not been afraid to speak out against for the Hall of Fame told WSBT, "I'll believe it when I see it."