Oh-my-GOODNESS!!! When I received a confirmation email that we were invited to the College Football Hall Media Day, I literally started jumping up and down in the middle of my kitchen. I felt like I won the lottery. After explaining to my family why I was about to cry tears of joy, I called Melissa. We truly couldn’t believe it. Flip the Field is getting some recognition!!! Well..yesterday was the day! We had no idea what to expect. I was secretly holding my breath until we went inside. Our names were actually on the list and everyone greeted us with “oh yea, I saw you on the list”!!! So we headed into a tunnel that had football silhouettes running by and we end up staring up the monstrosity called the Helmet Wall. There are over 760 helmets representing each and every college that has a football team. If you look down, you will see 4 quotes by famous coaches embedded in steel in the in the ground. The first one that caught my eye, naturally, was “Tough times don’t last but tough people do.” – Bear Bryant As we went into the press conference, we met Fumbles, the mascot. Absolutely adorable! He/She/It has field goal uprights for ‘ears’ and will surely be a hit with the kids. After we were seated, Mr. College Football (Tony Barnhart) welcomed us and all of the speakers. Governor Nathan Deal spoke of being in the heart of football country and the tourism impact to the state. John Stephenson, Jr. , president and CEO of Atlanta Hall Management, spoke about how the Hall came to be in Atlanta and what a perfect location Atlanta is. Then we listened to Steve Hatchell of the National Football Foundation. He stressed the Foundation’s commitment to educating the public on the benefits of football. In his words, “Football matters!” (Oh yeah it does!). He spoke of the great leaders that football has created, he spoke of heroes and icons in our nation’s history. All very true! It could be said of most any team sport and what a tremendous impact it had on us and will have on our children. Some inductees were there too. Danny Wuerffel, Art Shell and Kevin Butler (the only kicker in the hall and a UGA grad too!) were all there. After that, it was on to our personalized tour! We are planning on writing multiple articles about the College Football Hall of Fame but wanted to start with a basic introduction. Future articles will include an inside look at all of the exhibits and our recommendation for touring with your family and as a football novice or new fan of the game to help you get the most out of your experience.
College Football Hall of Fame: An Introduction
The College Football Hall of Fame is nearly 95,000 square feet. The exhibit space surrounds a 45-yard indoor football field. It cost $68.5 Million dollars to build but was almost completely built with private funds and big corporate sponsors like AT&T, The Coca-Cola Company, Home Depot, Georgia Pacific, KIA and more. Invest Atlanta donated $1M, the state kicked in with the land that they are leasing to the Hall and both the City and the State participated greatly in making the entire thing happen. Construction started in January of 2013 and they were able to get this building opened on time. They anticipate 500,000 visitors per year and over $12 Million in economic impact to Georgia. That’s a great return on investment! We have a separate article on the exhibits but for your quick introduction, just know this: they are awesome! Each exhibit area is very interactive and extremely modern. The technology of the RFID in your ticket (All Access Pass) from the very moment you enter the Hall makes you feel like everyone knows who you are. The exhibits with their laser walls of touch screens and virtual reality view into a football stadium, all demonstrate what a ‘museum’ in the post iPad world should feel like. In fact, you can’t even call it a museum. A museum is a dusty collection of old artifacts behind glass cases. This is nothing of the sort. It has a great balance of history and the modern era of football and technology. Each time you go, you will receive a different experience with new and updated images, features and archives. This will surely be at least an annual visit and one that will be fun to take all the out of town guests. On top of that, ticket prices are fair for an exhibit that will probably take you a couple of hours to go through.