At least one private, for profit, taxpaying entity has expressed an interest in buying the South Bend building that once housed the College Football Hall of Fame.
In fact, a Chicago based businessman offered the city $1.5 million for the property.
“So our goal was to purchase the building and put about $1 million into refurbishing it,” said Sean Cannon, Chief Executive Officer with venueone and EVENTCREATIVE.
Tonight, the South Bend Common Council set aside some time to hear about Cannon’s vision for the building, even though it’s not a vision shared by the city officials who control the former hall’s fate—the South Bend Redevelopment Commission.
The redevelopment commission has endorsed a proposal to set up the Culinary Arts and Food Education Center, with Ivy Tech as the major tenant.
“He (Cannon) wants to invest his own dollars here, he’s not coming in asking for a public-private partnership, he’s not coming in asking for a tax abatement or what you doing to do for me, he’s coming in saying I want to invest in South Bend, I want to be part of South Bend. Hooray,” said 2nd District Councilman Henry Davis, Jr. “We want to make sure we inject this conversation into the larger audience so the court of public opinion can be heard and heard without something stopping it from happening.”
Part of Cannon’s plan calls for renting space at the hall for things like weddings and private parties. Another part calls for hosting seasonal events like a Winter Wonderland and a Halloween Scream Park.
But the backbone of Cannon’s business centers on hosting corporate sponsored “experiential marketing” events.
It’s really the way a lot of companies are going these days. Especially with the internet now in play as well as digital recording they don't get a lot of the air time or the printed press as they like, so what they're doing now is going more the way of putting their product into the consumer's hands,” said Sean Cannon. “It could be something like Sony Play Station where they allow the consumer to come in and try out all the news games that are out there.”
While Cannon said he was disappointed that his offer was rejected, he added, “I never like being number two, but if number one doesn’t work out, we’d definitely revisit the opportunity.”