HAMILTON — Mark DeNobile’s 10-year odyssey has come to a gratifying conclusion.
The Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum relaunched at Tim Hortons Field on Friday. DeNobile, the Hall of Fame’s executive director, proudly showed off the re-designed and refurbished 10,000 square foot venue prior to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats-Toronto Argonauts exhibition game.
“The last 10 years have been up and down, up and down . . . but it’s all worth it,” DeNobile said. “I’m very happy, ecstatic.
“We finally have a home for everybody, all the Hall of Famers and the media and it’s all in one building. I’m just over the moon over this.”
The Hall of Fame had been located in a building in downtown Hamilton since 1972. And while that venue was 10,000 square feet also, DeNobile said the layout of the new facility is much more fan and user friendly.
And he added there’s enough additional space to house the busts of inductees for the next 10 years. There are currently 296 busts of those who’ve been inducted thus far.
“The building we were at was a popular place in the 1970s when it first opened but things change,” DeNobile said. “Now, it (Hall of Fame) is a destination point.
“It’s not an elitist thing, it’s open to the public, there’s still no admission charges. But we have a chance for people to walk through . . . and see it and enjoy the history of our game.”
The relaunch was the result of a partnership between the CFL and city of Hamilton with assistance from the home-town Tiger-Cats. On hand Friday were Hall of Fame players Less Browne, Damon Allen and Dan Ferrone.
The iconic “Touchdown Statue,” which stood outside the downtown location for almost 50 years, is now at Tim Hortons Field. There’s a Grey Cup display just inside the entrance with the new Hall of Fame located on the fourth floor.
The Hall of Fame’s media wing is located on the seventh floor in the stadium’s press box.
CFL chairman Jim Lawson was impressed with the new venue.
“It’s certainly exciting for this,” he said. “All these artifacts are for people to see, not only the busts but all the great memorabilia.
“What a perfect setting for the history of this league and game.”
DeNobile said there’s already talk about what the next phase of the Hall of Fame will be.
“I don’t know what Phase 2 is going to be but obviously interactive,” he said. “We’ve never had that before.
“It’s a start but we’re already looking at what’s next. We’ve still got to organize stuff downstairs at the old place but those are all gems we’re going to find.”
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