Mike Crawford is the President and Chief Executive Officer for both Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company and its subsidiary, Hall of Fame Village Powered by Johnson Controls.
Football fans know the best plays can take time to develop. Fans of the big-league project that is the Hall of Fame Village Powered by Johnson Controls have been waiting for signals that the sporting and entertainment destination will indeed materialize and yield a touchdown for the community.
As CEO of the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Co., the new public company focused on advancing the development of this unique, multi-faceted project, I feel privileged to share with the local community our playbook for success. This blueprint is detailed, action-oriented and achievable, especially given our access to the capital markets.
I know firsthand the formula required to create a magical destination that yields sustained community benefits. My experience at Disney and Four Seasons, where I led the development of highly complex projects like Downtown Disney in California, Shanghai Disney Resort and Four Seasons Vietnam, has informed our playbook and the way we are committed to managing our relationships. It starts with building a talented and hungry team, and I am confident we have moved the ball far down the field on this front.
Our team’s collective backgrounds building transformative experiences off the backs of some of the most recognizable brands in the world are already proving extremely valuable as we work to do the same here. Only this time, we are building experiences and engagement around the most powerful brand in football, next to the NFL: the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I am energized and motivated by the early progress we have made, and equally excited about what is ahead. What follows is a summary of our playbook and three reasons to be optimistic about this undertaking.
1. The Hall of Fame Village Powered by Johnson Controls is moving from a vision to a development. The Hall of Fame itself is certainly special, but so much more is coming. In just Phase I, we constructed the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium and the National Youth Football and Sports Complex, and we are on track to complete the renovation of the Hilton DoubleTree hotel in downtown Canton this year. Moreover, we are working with multiple financial partners to obtain funding to help us move forward with Phase II of the project, which we expect to break ground in the near future. Phase II includes implementing the final pieces that will enhance the fan experience at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium and developing the following components:
- The Constellation Center for Excellence – a 75,000-square-foot office building with research and development components.
- The upscale Hall of Fame Premium Hotel.
- The Hall of Fame Waterpark – a technology heavy, football-themed indoor waterpark.
- The Hall of Fame Retail Promenade – featuring restaurants, retail, and experiential entertainment offerings.
- The Center for Performance – a 138,000-square-foot sport, event and convention facility.
Development will happen in a phased approach; tackling all the construction simultaneously is infeasible and ill-advised for any company. We anticipate Phase II will take 2.5 to 3 years to complete once the shovel hits the ground.
2. We are now a public company. In early July, the company that owned the Hall of Fame Village Powered by Johnson Controls merged with a special purpose acquisitions company through a process meant to take the company public. The completion of this transaction created the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Co. (NASDAQ: HOFV), which now owns the Hall of Fame Village Powered by Johnson Controls, and intends to build it into a world-class sports, entertainment and media enterprise that includes youth sports, e-sports, fantasy football, themed destinations and more. Importantly, as a public company, we now have access to a wider universe of investors and benefit from greater liquidity as well as access to multiple forms of financing. These attributes are essential to moving our ambitious plans forward. And, you will be able to track our progress through our required public disclosures filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
3. The company is diversifying its revenue portfolio. Creating multiple revenue streams is key to mitigating risk, driving long-term growth and enabling reinvestment back into our company. Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Co. will draw revenue from a waterpark/hotels/retail/dining component, youth sports and fantasy, sporting and live entertainment event programming, sponsorships and content creation for original media programming derived from our vast library of football-related intellectual property and slate of live sporting events.
Additionally, we are further diversifying our company through acquisitions in complimentary high-growth markets. For example, we acquired a majority interest in a professional football fantasy league as part of our plans to tap into a market projected to surpass $33 billion within five years. We have also purchased 100 percent of Youth Sports Management LLC, which organizes and manages youth sporting events and programming, to take advantage of the $15 billion youth sports industry. We also take pride in our powerful partnerships, like our agreement with the NFL Alumni Association, which will locate the NFL Alumni’s headquarters here and bring even more great sports programming to Canton and beyond.
Finally, I want to emphasize that the benefit to the community will extend beyond having a great place to visit. What we are most excited about is the potential job creation and tax revenue opportunities that our project can generate. We are committed to working closely with local businesses throughout each step of our development process. And, we are grateful for the support we have received from local government and community leaders. We could not be on the trajectory we are without the support from our friends in Canton.
So, the master plan is now in place. Earth will start moving in the near future. The reasons to believe are here. No longer a Hail Mary, the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Co. is now something that Canton, and football fans everywhere, can justifiably be optimistic about.