“We were a little too ambitious,” he said. The company building the project, Hall of Fame Resort &
Entertainment Co., recently bought a hotel in downtown Canton that it is renovating. It also acquired a
majority stake in a fantasy football league.
Mr. Crawford said he hopes branching out into sports betting and esports will help reassure investors at
the same time hotels and theme parks are attracting few guests. He added that he plans to develop
original content, including a television show about young football players trying to become professionals.
The main shareholders in Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment are developer Industrial Realty Group LLC,
the Hall of Fame and financial adviser M. Klein & Co.
Last month, Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment raised capital through an unconventional method: It
went public by merging with what is known as a blank-check company, Gordon Pointe Acquisition Corp.
These companies are an increasingly popular tool for technology companies to go public without a
cumbersome initial public offering, but are rarely used to fund real-estate developments.
The developers initially planned to raise between $60 million and $80 million when they agreed to merge
last year, according to Mr. Crawford, but ended up raising just $31 million after some of the blank-check
company’s shareholders backed out of the deal during the pandemic.
“I think we were very lucky to retain the amount that we did,” Mr. Crawford said. To cover the shortfall,
he said he plans to raise more equity, possibly through the federal opportunity-zone program. He said
that he is also in talks with banks over a construction loan of more than $200 million.
James Dolan, Gordon Pointe’s founder, said he doesn’t consider the merger a real-estate deal, in part
because of the emphasis on esports and media production, and compared the new company to Disney. “I
don’t consider Disney to be a real-estate company,” he said.