Since 2009, the group’s biggest accomplishments have been receiving 501c(3) status as a nonprofit, completing the architectural blueprints for the facility and creating a soccer-field complex that is currently in use. The bid to actually build the athletic complex is still under negotiation as of Tuesday.
However, not as much yardage has been gained in completion of the physical aspect of a synthetic football field and pavilion that would be the official home of the hall of fame.
The two other major undertakings completed have been a road out to the fields and water system, both donated by the fiscal court.
“I wish like everyone else we had it done now, but I have seen progression over the past few years,” Nicholasville Tourism Commission president Tommy Cobb said. “Money is the magic word, and it’s just bad timing with the recession.”
Since 2009, the tourism board has cut its annual contributions of $10,000 and $15,000 down to $7,500 in 2011 and 2010.
The money went to the annual induction of NFL players into the hall of fame as well as a golf scramble.
This puts the amount of tourism donations to nearly $100,000 over the past decade, only $15,000 of that going to the new board. The money has gone to cover the board’s overhead (including filing for the 501c(3)) and also to the NFL players who have been inducted into the hall of fame. According to the organization, Kentucky is the only state to have its own football hall of fame, which is currently located in the Jessamine County Chamber of Commerce building on Main Street, but the space for new inductees is becoming scarce.
During a board meeting last Wednesday, the hall-of-fame committee stated it had roughly $14,000 in the treasury’s budget, but that’s for overhead costs and not donations to actual building costs.
“The county donated property and gave some donations to get started, so I think we’d like to have a nice pavilion eventually, at least,” county Judge-Executive Neal Cassity said. “But it’s going to take a considerable amount of money, and it might need to be done in stages. It might even take several years to get it where we want it.”
Despite the time, Cassity said he is confident the endeavor will yield fruits for the county, whether or not there is a hall of fame built there.
“They are building out there in such a way, like the road and water system, so that future adaptation will be an easy fit,” Cassity said. “It’s just a big project. Until then, we want to provide a (youth) football field and get (the kids) away from City-County park; it’s getting crowded out there.
Cassity said he hopes once the project builds momentum it’ll be a real big success and get people to take more of an interest in it.
“It’ll be something that can be used regionally for tournaments and things,” he said, “and generate revenue for the county.”
Cassity also said that the economy slowed down progress but that even if the hall of fame does not get made, he’s confident there will be a football field and pavilion.
One of the biggest setbacks for the project was federal money expected from U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, who said he had earmarked for the hall-of-fame project.
Earmarking was a practice in which a legislator could tag a provision to direct funds to be spent on specific projects. That was until moratoriums were declared on earmarks in 2007-08.
“What that does is prevent me from going to Washington and getting money for a project like this that I think is important for one of the communities I represent,” Chandler said. “(But) we do have an alternative. The money is still there, to a certain extent; we just have to go to the bureaucrats in Washington and get the money from them.”
Chandler advised the board that they would have to start applying for many different types of grants and write them so they fit in the category — a Herculean but not impossible task.