Planners who want to score big with sports-minded groups should check out the College Football Hall of Fame, which uses extensive memorabilia collections and sophisticated technology to fully immerse fans in the college football experience.
Originally located in South Bend, Indiana, the Hall of Fame has moved to Atlanta and just reopened in a new $68.5 million facility. It has 50,000 sf of event and exhibit space—almost half its total 94,256 sf—including a 45-yard indoor football field that serves as flexible programming and event space.The Hall canhost groups as small as 10 in its exhibit spaces and as enormous as 4,000 on the indoor field, says Brian Foley, director of sales and events.
Further raising the Hall’s profile with meeting planners is its partnership with the Omni Hotel at CNN Center. The Omni is the Hall’s exclusive caterer, including after-hours events and concessions under the supervision of Executive Chef Greg Wright. The Omni is finalizing construction on a walkway to connect the hotel to the College Football Hall of Fame and the Georgia World Congress Center. The connector will make this the only hotel to be connected to a major conference center, which will be especially convenient for guests of both properties.
The Hall of Fame is operated by Atlanta Hall Management (AHM), a not-for-profit charitable organization with the goal of “delivering a highly immersive, interactive and engaging experience to Hall of Fame visitors.” To carry it out, the Hall offers ten separate exhibit spaces with historic and contemporary memorabilia and interactive multimedia displays: from the Helmet Wall, displaying a helmet from every four-year-institution that fields a team; to multimedia experiences like the Game Day Theater and virtual-reality devices that seem to put the viewer on the field or behind the scenes. Visitors can call classic game plays, sing karaoke versions of college fight songs, act the parts of ESPN sportscasters and otherwise live the college football experience—right down to getting their faces painted in the team colors.
High-tech touches pervade the Hall of Fame. Visitors will be able to save content from 17 different interactive areas to their admission ticket that is equipped with radio-frequency identification. The Hall “will be for the diehard fan who loves football, and the technology will also appeal to the non-fan,” Foley says.
Atlanta’s popularity as a convention destination was a major factor in the Hall of Fame’s selection of Atlanta as its new home, Foley says. Between that and the Atlanta area’s passion for football, the Hall of Fame could be in for several winning seasons.
“We’ve had a lot of interest so far,” he says, “and interest is continuing to build as word of mouth gets out and we get close to the opening.”