Sports Hall of Fame to remain at White Pine Village.

November 15, 2018

PERE MARQUETTE TOWNSHIP — The Mason County Sports Hall of Fame (MCSHF) Board of Directors has announced that it will not be moving from its current location at Historic White Pine Village to the former PNC Bank building in downtown Ludington.  This decision was researched in great depth over the past year, and it was determined by the board of director that the project was not economically sustainable in the long term, according to MCSHF President Vic Burwell.

“The purpose of MCSHF is to honor, recognize, and preserve the achievements of area athletes, as well as inspire and educate future generations,” Burwell said. “The organization has become a positive asset in our community, and we hoped to expand our vision with the development of a new Sports Center in downtown Ludington, combining our athletic history with ‘life lessons’ learned through sports.  Our vision was to create another significant cultural attraction with a strong visitor experience that would appeal to residents and visitors alike.”

Vic Burwell, president of the MCSHF shows concepts of the new museum.

The original opportunity to consider moving the MCSHF to downtown Ludington was made possible by an anonymous philanthropist who provided the resources for the organization to purchase the former PNC building.

“That philanthropist’s faith and confidence in the Mason County Sports Hall of Fame represents a huge statement of trust in our purpose and vision,” Burwell said. “It is exceptionally rare when a non-profit cultural organization acquires a prime piece of real estate debt free.

“We knew our project was ambitious for a small community.  As national data confirms that non-profit cultural organizations generate only 50 percent of their operating budgets through admissions.  They most often fill the revenue shortfall through annual philanthropic financial contributions and grant awards.

“After the purchase of the old PNC building, the board engaged a highly experienced consulting firm to flesh out the anticipated programs and to present a cost estimate for the development of the new facility.  A pro-forma budget projecting revenue and anticipated expenses was developed.  We then presented our plans and aspirations to Mason County leaders and potential donors.  All were impressed with the vision of the project, yet each independently raised concern for our ability to sustain this ambitious project.   

“It was after significant collaborative input and analysis from the community, that the MCSHF Board of Directors decided that the Sports Center concept was not sustainable, without significant risk to our organization, and other non-profits competing for similar financial assistance in our area.”

The Sports Center evaluation process has resulted in a future expanded vision for the MCSHF, Burwell said. “The concept of connecting the celebration of local athletics with life lessons defines the new purpose of the organization.  We also want to develop methods to educate area residents and visitors about the positive influence athletics has on our local community and society in general.

“A decision to place the PNC building for sale was made at the recent MCSHF Board of Directors meeting.  Pursuing our expanded vision will include strategic discussions with the Mason County Historical Society.”


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