Hamilton politicians applauded what they believe is a winning game plan that will see the Canadian Football Hall of Fame embedded into Tim Hortons Field starting this year.
An agreement between the CFL and the city had been approved by councillors in 2016 that will see a replica Grey Cup displayed in the stadium’s main lobby, the creation of what is being called “Legends Row” on the fourth level concourse and the installation of Media Hall of Fame artifacts situated at the Press Box Level.
“This is everything we had hoped,” said Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr, a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame subcommittee.
City officials had said the installment of the hall of fame artifacts would be completed last year, but there were problems with the cost. One of the ideas had been to create what was called “Legends Row” a series of 289 busts at the north end of the stadium below the scoreboard, but the price tag became too expensive and officials had to scramble to revise the proposal.
A solution was found to install the commemorated busts of great football players at the 4th Level Club Suite, which was identified as less expensive.
Other additions to the exhibits in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame Museum will include a Hall of Fame digital exhibit, a food service, and other artifact displays. The “Touchdown” statue, currently located outside of the former hall of fame location beside City Hall, will be relocated to the entrance of Tim Hortons Field at Gate 3.
It is expected the museum will be open to the public during Tiger-Cat game days, Wednesdays after school and Saturdays in the morning.
According to the agreement that was signed by Hamilton and the CFL each contributed $250,000 to the project, which staff said is expected to be completed by the opening of the 2018 football season. The CFL is also taking ownership of the Hall of Fame, along with providing staff on site to provide information to visitors.
The CFL held its 2017 Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Tim Hortons Field last September.
The agreement also includes the stipulation Hamilton would host the Hall of Fame game until 2025 and the city would stop subsidizing the former hall of fame building at a cost of about $130,000 annually through free rent and utilities. Hamilton will also contribute about $25,000 in operating costs.
In 2014 the Hall of Fame needed a $100,000 bailout from Hamilton to keep it operating.
The former location of the Hall of Fame beside City Hall will be turned into what is being called City Lab. The building will still house Hall of Fame memorabilia in the basement until 2025.
The Hall of Fame, which closed at the end of July 2015, was seeing a decline in visitors with about 2,000 people attending in 2014.
CFL officials had said in an earlier interview that by relocating the hall of fame to Tim Hortons Field it will reach new fans and add to their football experience.
“This has been a number of years in the making,” said Mayor Fred Eisenberger. “What I see is great integration of the busts into the concourse.”
Hamilton was awarded the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1963 after a lobbying effort by former mayor Lloyd Jackson. The hall had been at its Jackson Street location since 1972.
– Hamilton Community News