Hall of Fame village project sputters

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In 2015, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced ambitious plans for a village project to be completed in 2018. It wasn’t finished in 2018, and it won’t be completed for a while.

As explained by Susan Glaser of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, work stopped on the project more than a year ago. Eventually, a group of contractors filed liens against the property due to the fact that they haven’t been paid.

In December, the Hall of Fame’s board hired Mike Crawford, a former Disney executive, to oversee the project. It won’t be done before the multi-day celebration planned for the 100th anniversary of the NFL, in September 2020. Some think the project will never reach a conclusion.

“If I didn’t believe that this was going to get done, I wouldn’t have come,” Crawford told Glaser.

Elsewhere in the interview, Crawford justifies the slow progress by explaining that projects like this should take plenty of time to fully realize — and by contradicting himself.

“It’s a project in my mind that will take a very, very long time and will never be done,” Crawford said.

Ultimately, securing proper funding is the key to getting it done. But there’s only so much that can be named after NFL owners who would like to have their names survive in perpetuity (especially if they don’t earn a bronze bust inside the museum), especially after Tom Benson was able to attach his name to the football stadium on the Hall of Fame’s grounds for only $10 million. With the final price for the project set at $900 million and plenty more millions needed to get there, it may be hard for the Hall of Fame to finagle eight-figure donations from NFL owners with 10-figure net worths if the quid pro quo doesn’t include forever slapping their names onto something prominent.

Maybe the best approach will be for Hall of Fame president David Baker to put the squeeze on NFL owners who are finalists for induction just before Baker counts the votes.