The letterhead on stationery for the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame is now due for some major changes, but the names are familiar.
Bobby Pope will take over as the Hall’s executive director while Ben Sapp vacates that position to assume the duties of managing director.
Sapp had been the interim executive director since the retirement from that role by Jackie Decell in the spring of 2010. She had been with the Hall in some position since 1999, the year the building opened.
The move was announced Friday morning during a meeting of the Hall’s Authority by Mike Ford, president and chief executive officer of NewTown Macon.
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“NewTown is very excited about the possibility of managing the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and we hope to be able to make a formal announcement regarding our new role very soon,” Ford said in a news release. “We intend to make the Hall of Fame the destination in Downtown Macon to hold events, and I am confident that with Bobby Pope and Ben Sapp in their respective positions, the Hall of Fame can become a viable and thriving institution serving Middle Georgia and the entire state.”
The Development Authority of Bibb County agreed last month to a management agreement for NewTown Macon to take over the Hall’s operations, a process that remains ongoing.
In October, the Georgia State Properties Commission approved a lease agreement with the county’s development authority that should keep the Hall open for at least a year.
Friday’s announcement is the latest attempt to stabilize the Hall’s long-term future.
Pope has been involved with the Hall for years, including the move for the building to be located in Macon. The former longtime athletics director at Mercer is currently on the board of directors and has served as the authority chairman as well as on the Hall’s foundation.
His role is to improve the Hall’s fiscal situation through fund-raising as well as growing awareness of the museum statewide.
Sapp joined the Hall in 2004 as marketing and event coordinator and then became the director of education and public information before taking over as interim executive director upon Decell’s retirement.
Since then, he has led the hall through its latest rough waters, which included the elimination of state funding as well as the current management and operations transition.
J. Paul Holmes of Monticello is the new authority chairman, while Emily Myers was chosen as vice chairman and Drew Williams IV as secretary/treasurer. Kirby Moore, the past chairman, will serve with officers of the authority’s executive committee.
The Hall is gearing up for its marquee event, the induction ceremony on Feb. 25 at the Macon City Auditorium. This year’s class: Jack Bauerle, Sally Smalley Bell, Bob Boylston, Tracy Ham, Cliff Kimsey and John Smoltz.