By DAVE STEPHENS - Follow me @MrDaveStephens
South Bend Tribune
10:15 AM EST, February 23, 2012
The future home of the College Football Hall of Fame could be in doubt, according to a report in an Atlanta newspaper, but what that means for the Hall's future in South Bend remains uncertain.
On Thursday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article that indicated plans to move the Hall from South Bend to Atlanta are being re-evaluated due to fundraising shortfalls.
In January, John Stephenson Jr., the interim CEO of Atlanta Hall Management, the group tasked with relocating the Hall of Fame, told The Tribune he was confident the move would take place.
"It's still going to be here (Atlanta) for sure," Stephenson said in January.
But at that time, Stephenson said he was unable to comment on any financial or fundraising issues, and he was not willing to give a project timeline.
In the Journal-Constitution article, Stephenson's comments remained basically the same.
"We're not prepared to come out with a new budget or timeline or schedule until we're comfortable we have fully vetted it and that the new metrics are based in good data and good analysis," Stephenson told the Journal-Constitution.
The delay is the latest in a long line of obstacles that the project has encountered since the September 2009 announcement that the Hall would move from South Bend to Atlanta.
Atlanta beat out Dallas for the new Hall location, which was deemed necessary because attendance in South Bend never reached the levels expected by the National Football Foundation, which owns the rights to the Hall.
As recently as late last year, Atlanta Hall Management had been estimating a construction date this spring, with an opening date in 2013.
Hall officials in South Bend have never formally announced when the local Hall would close.
Despite those delays, Steve Hatchell, president and CEO of the National Football Foundation, told the Journal-Constitution that his organization is still "100 percent" behind the Hall's move to Atlanta.
But Hatchell also told the newspaper that he expects to see a new plan for the facility at the foundation's board meeting in mid-April. He also said that other cities, which he would not name, have expressed interest in luring the Hall from Atlanta.
But Hatchell said the football foundation has, so far, not taken those inquires seriously, or followed up on them.
For more on this story, and to find out what this development means to South Bend, continue to visit www.southbendtribune.com or see Friday's South Bend Tribune.
Staff writer Dave Stephens:
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