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Work begins on College Football Hall of Fame site

The transformation of a downtown Atlanta parking lot into the College Football Hall of Fame has begun.

Atlanta Hall Management, the non-profit entity formed to build and operate the college football shrine here, took control of the Georgia World Congress Center’s now-closed “Green” parking lot last week and started work on the site.

AHM executive vice president John Christie said some utilities have been moved and a construction fence will be erected starting this week.

The hall opted not to schedule a ceremonial ground-breaking event because of unpredictable winter weather, Christie said.

He said heavy-equipment work will start around mid-February on the site, which is across Marietta Street from Centennial Olympic Park.

The 95,000-square-foot, $66.5-million attraction is scheduled to be completed in August 2014.

The start of construction comes almost 3 1/2 years after the National Football Foundation, which owns the hall, decided amid much fanfare to move it from South Bend, Ind., to Atlanta.

Fund-raising problems stalled the project here before a flurry of corporate sponsorship commitments last year led to its green-lighting. A ground lease to build the attraction on state property — the GWCC parking lot — stipulated that construction could not begin until funding was in place to finish the job. State officials determined last fall that the stipulation had been satisfied.

The South Bend facility closed Dec. 30. Exhibits will be stored until the hall reopens here.

In another development involving the Hall of Fame, the Atlanta Sports Council said it has entered into a partnership with the hall on the College Football Preview luncheon, a preseason event the Sports Council has sponsored annually for more than a decade.

The event, which typically features high-profile coaches and broadcasters previewing the season, will be held at an Atlanta hotel this year — the first year of the partnership — before moving to the Hall of Fame building in 2014, Sports Council executive director Dan Corso said.

“For us, it’s a big step on a nice event (and will) take it to the next level,” Corso said.

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