VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The future of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum is still in limbo.
Chairman of the Board Joel Rubin told WAVY News that diminishing state and local subsidies, coupled with the City of Portsmouth pulling funding altogether in the next fiscal year, has the museum looking at relocating to the Oceanfront. Rubin said that the increasing toll costs haven’t helped the situation, either.
“We’re now at the point where we just cannot be sustained in this location,” he said.
Museum officials appealed to Virginia Beach City Council Tuesday, saying the hall of fame would be a good fit for the Resort City and its sports marketing department.
“We want to keep it here in Hampton Roads,” Rubin said. “We want to keep bringing our banquets and our inductees here, it’s great for tourism, great to put people in hotels and restaurants. It’s a win-win and we hope everyone will come to that conclusion.”
During the meeting, Rubin requested an answer by the end of the year. The board is under a deadline by the state to come up with a plan in order to receive a substantial chunk of funding.
“We’re in a challenging situation. The state has a significant amount of money that’s in the budget for us that we need to operate, but also to transition to the next place so we would love to have a commitment from [Virginia Beach] so we can free up those dollars.”
But Mayor Will Sessoms said an agreement by Dec. 31 is not likely.
Early discussions involve relocating the hall of fame to a proposed field house or arena. But neither project has received the green light. Sessoms said he also needs a better understanding of how much the city would need to contribute to the organization.
“A facility like the hall of fame would enhance an arena or field house, but I also need to know what would the cost be to the city as far as the support required for the hall of fame.”
Sessoms noted that Virginia Beach is not trying to take the attraction from Portsmouth.
“It’s a wonderful facility,” he said. “I would love to see it stay in Portsmouth.”
Portsmouth Vice Mayor Elizabeth Psimas said she’d hate to see the museum go, and the building become vacant. She said what the city could contribute is “subject to change” with so many new council members coming into office next year.
Portsmouth Mayor-Elect John Rowe did not return calls Tuesday.
Eddie Webb, Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum Executive Director, said the next step for now is to likely go back to the state and request additional time to present a plan.
“Portsmouth has been good to us, but we’re tasked, as our board has told us, to look at what other opportunities are out there right now,” Webb said.
Webb said with a move to Virginia Beach, the plan would be to downsize and “enhance” a new facility there.