The bid to keep the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in downtown Macon carries a lot of similarities to the proposal to keep the Georgia Music Hall of Fame from moving out of the city.
The big difference between the two bids is that Halls of Fame Inc. -- the public-private, nonprofit partnership working to keep both museums in Macon -- is the lone bidder for the sports hall, facing no other competition.
The state asked communities to step forward to take over the operations for the halls of fame after the state Legislature decided to end funding for them.
Last October, at a mandatory meeting for cities interested in the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, only Macon and Athens representatives attended. But Athens elected not to turn in a bid for the museum by the Dec. 31 deadline.
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Since Macon is the only city bidding for the sports hall, one question looms: Will the state automatically agree to keep the museum in Macon?
Ben Sapp, interim director of the sports hall, said the proposal process would continue as outlined by the state.
“The authority board is scheduled to meet Jan. 12 and will consider the request then,” he said. “The integrity of the process will continue as it’s stated in the (request for proposal).”
As with Halls of Fame Inc.’s proposal for the music hall, its plan is to focus on advertising the sports hall through a variety of media across the state and to seek other sources of money.
In its bid proposal, Halls of Fame Inc. is proposing paying the state’s rate of $10.19 per square foot to rent the sports hall. However, the Macon proposal only offers to pay that rate for 10,000 square feet, the minimum amount of space the state is requiring to house the museum. Halls of Fame Inc. is proposing using the entirety of the museum space at its location on Cherry Street, which is about 43,000 square feet.
The distinction is important, because Halls of Fame Inc. is proposing to pay $101,900 in rent to the state annually, rather than $438,000, even though it will use the entire space.
Mike Dyer, chairman of Halls of Fame Inc., said he expects to continue negotiations with the state about the rent issue if Macon wins the bid. The state amended its proposal requirements late in the process, requiring that Macon would have to pay rent to the state for the existing sports hall building.
“If they came back with 43,000 square feet at $10 a foot, that would be problematic,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’ve been talking with our local delegation, and I don’t think that will be the case. It does seem a little unfair that we were hit with (the rent amendment) in the last minute.”
The organization’s financial plan is built around the $101,900 figure. Using that figure, Halls of Fame Inc. officials indicate the museum would turn a $32,641 profit for fiscal 2012, the first year the organization would operate it.
That’s a stark contrast to fiscal 2010, in which the museum lost $128,095 -- after the state provided a $413,392 subsidy. There’s no state subsidy once the museum gets taken over by another entity.
The bid outlined several sources of public and private funding designed to make the sports museum self-sufficient in the first five years after Halls of Fame Inc. took it over. Macon and Bibb County have pledged $500,000 to the museum over the next three years. In addition, the Peyton Anderson Foundation has pledged $750,000 in grants over the next three years, while the Griffith Family Charitable Foundation has offered a pledge of $200,000. The Community Foundation of Central Georgia also has awarded a grant of $15,000 for next year if Macon’s bid is successful.
Halls of Fame Inc. will have a line of credit with BB&T bank for $200,000 for operating expenses until some of these funds come through, according to the Halls of Fame Inc. proposal.
Halls of Fame Inc. also is anticipating funds from a penny added to the local hotel-motel lodging tax. The sports hall, music hall and Douglass Theatre are splitting those funds three ways, and the sports hall’s cut is estimated to be about $90,000 for the first year.
Dyer said Halls of Fame Inc. would recruit inductees for both museums to assist in fundraising and programming efforts. In the sports hall’s case, that would include a sports camp where kids would be able to work with inductees from various sports. Another proposed idea is VIP opportunities for major donors to meet with inductees.
“I can’t speak on behalf of the authority, but I assume if it meets the criteria, we’ll have a winning proposal,” Dyer said. “I don’t think the state wants to close it, which bodes well for us.”
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.