After spending six years in the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex of Auburndale, the Florida Sports Hall of Fame Preview Center recently relocated to the Central Florida Visitor Information Center in Polk County. The Executive Director of the Hall of Fame is hoping that the new location will allow “unparalleled access for millions of visitors in the coming years,” which will be crucial to maintaining the site.
Apparently, at the previous facility, the Hall of Fame wasn’t open during weekends, which is crazy given that most people would be most likely to visit then. The Information Center will be open from “sun up to sun down,” which will definitely give more people the opportunity to take advantage of the museum. That and the fact that the visitor’s center already has a draw of 55,000 plus visitors.
The History of the HOF
In 1958, the Sportswriters Association and Florida Sportscasters Association founded the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. In 1977 the first Preview Center (the space where morabilia is stored and made accessible to visitors) was opened at Haven’s Cypress Gardens. In 1985, the Cypress Gardens location closed. For five years there wasn’t a preview center open. Then in 1990, the Hall of Fame’s preview center moved to Lake City. It had to close again in 2002, once again due to a lack of funds.
This time around, the Hall was without a home for eight years. In 2010, the Hall was opened at Myrtle Lake with the expectation that the location would keep visitors in attendance for “many years to come.” But the museum was only open from 9am-4pm, Tuesday through Friday–hardly the ideal time for high volumes of visitors. Although traffic proved less desirable than expected, the hall did not need to disappear for several years as it had done during previous years.
Why It Matters
Hall of Fames are integral part of sports culture and history. In them is stored all sorts of artifacts and memories. It’s great that history has become more accessible with the internet and digital media. On Youtube you can watch a video of Dan Marino scoring touchdown after touchdown in the 1990 season. Simply type Lebron or Shaq into Google and you can pull up a number of images of them.
But inside the Hall of Fame, you can find a more three-dimensional sort of history. A tacticle, personal form of history. You can find the jersey that Marino wore or a ball that Shaq used.