The President of the National Football Foundation said Saturday night was the end of the journey for the College Football Hall of Famers who went through induction in December in New York and Enshrinement in South Bend this weekend.
Now, Steve Hatchell says its the end of the journey for the Hall of Fame itself in South Bend after 18 years.
"I would say so," Hatchell told me Saturday before the Enshrinement's Dinner and Show. "We anticipate to have a new Hall of Fame in September 2014 and will break ground [in Atlanta] this fall. So I guess the answer would be yes, this will probably be the last enshrinement here."
The Hall of Fame's lease runs through December. That's when everything in the downtown facility will close up shop.
A meeting between the city of South Bend and the National Football Foundation to finalize things has yet to occur, but that's expected to happen soon.
The National Football Foundation, which runs the College Football Hall of Fame, announced back in 2009 that it would be leaving South Bend for Atlanta. But plans continued to get pushed back and the Hall of Fame kept renewing its lease in South Bend each year.
But as each year passed, two main issues kept presenting themselves in front of keeping the Hall of Fame going in South Bend, Hatchell says. That's money and staffing.
"Spectacular people who are on staff here, and they have been marvelous since 2009 when we announced that we were leaving," Hatchell explained. "A lot of people have left. And a lot of people that we have now have just announced that they're leaving and they're gonna go, and you just can't hire people on a month-to-month basis."
"Right now it would be pretty hard to keep the staff here that we'd like and to match up the people that we have had just with competent folks to keep it running and make it work."
Hatchell says he has developed tremendous relationships with many people in South Bend and calls many of them close friends. He wanted to reinforce the decision to leave was not a knock against the city.
"It's not a negative on South Bend," Hatchell continued. "It's just we have the opportunity to do something that's really significant and really big for college football."
"Atlanta has been interested in the College Football Hall of Fame for a long time -- preceded me, preceded the Hall of Fame coming to South Bend. They'd had interest. And they came to see our board of directors; they brought the governor, they brought the mayor, they brought some of the people that are a part of the business enterprise in Atlanta, which is huge."
Regardless of the fact that they won't have the Hall open in Atlanta until 2014, Hatchell says they still plan to have an Enshrinement somewhere next year.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Friday whether the Hall is here or not, South Bend will move forward in a positive way.
"All I can say is that South Bend is really good about finding a new path," Buttigieg explained. "When we need a new use for an old structure, South Bend has done incredible things from the East Race to Central High School. I'm sure if the Hall is not going to be staying in this building, South Bend is going to find a way."