College Football Hall of Fame site to be announced in September

The future home of the College Football Hall of Fame will be revealed in early September when all eyes are on Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, says Gary Stokan, who is leading the relocation of the South Bend, Ind., attraction to Georgia's capitol.

"We're going to announce the site on Kickoff weekend Sept. 4," Stokan said, though an exact date has not been finalized. "We'll have a press conference at the site."

Where the College Football Hall of Fame will land has been the subject of much speculation since officials announced late last September that Atlanta had snagged the facility.

Officials have said they want to locate the hall around Centennial Olympic Park to take advantage of foot traffic from nearby attractions, including the World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium and Imagine It!, the Children's Museum of Atlanta. But they have been mum on specific sites under consideration.

The college football hall is back in the news after it was learned Monday that officials with the National Football Foundation, which owns the attraction, and the city of South Bend have been discussing keeping the Indiana facility open through 2012 because Atlanta won't have the new building ready until spring 2013. The South Bend facility is scheduled to close at the end of 2011.

The city of South Bend could not be immediately reached to see if a deal has been struck.

The Georgia legislature earlier this year passed legislation giving the Atlanta hall $10 million to purchase land. The hall is expected to cost $50 million and cover 50,000 square feet. Some boosters have said if fundraising is successful, the building could be much larger -- almost doubling in size -- and cost as much as $90 million.

Stokan said while fundraising hasn't begun, the project has been well-received in informal discussions with some of the city's biggest companies. He declined to name the companies.

"It's really resonating positively with the Fortune 500 companies in Atlanta," he said.

But fundraising in a down economy will be tough for any entity looking for financial help, said Birgit Smith Burton, president of the Atlanta chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Giving was down nationally 3.6 percent to 303 billion in 2009.

Individuals, corporations and foundations have tightened their wallets and require an entity's goals match theirs before loosening the purse strings.

"They want to see measurable results," said Burton, whose organization will discuss the state of giving Tuesday. "The more you can demonstrate that, the more you can get their backing. They don't want to feel they're throwing money down a black hole."