The kids were off for fall break so we were looking for things to do and knowing my football-maniac son is concerned that the College Football Hall of Fame is leaving Indiana for Georgia and he may never see it-we spent the afternoon in South Bend.
We've never been to the Hall. We've sat at the South Bend Chocolate Company and stared out at it and have walked passed it on a number of occasions, but never visited it. It actually is fairly well done and after visiting and watching the kids play on the turf behind it, made me realize South Bend is about to lose something pretty cool from their downtown.
There have been a number of critics of the College Football Hall of Fame, along with Coveleski stadium...most of those comments center on former mayor and former governor Joe Kernan. And while the attendance numbers just didn't rack up for the Hall, there is no denying it was good for the downtown, at least as a part of the city's downtown rejuvenation plans.
I recommend the city look into some kind of combination sports-themed major restaurant/bar and possibly a sports equipment and clothing retailer (kayaks too!) with interactive training areas. Also work in a first class gym for people who need to work-out on the run. And work with Notre Dame to establish at least a small sports museum to get game-day visitors still coming downtown. The building is manageable enough in size to combine all of these adequately. No charge for these ideas Mayor Lucke.
But I do hope that they keep the green. It was remarkable to me how many people used it that weren't even going into the Hall. It's a great and unusual feature to have a partial football field in the middle of your downtown and fully accessible to the public. You've got to keep this!
We warmed up with hot coffee from the South Bend Chocolate Factory's downtown restaurant. Kudos to them too....probably as much a part of the downtown's turn-around as the Hall. The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and downtown South Bend has all kinds of proof-it is leaps and bounds better than what I remember it being during the late 80's/early 90's. That's what visionary leaders can do for their communities.
Just ask Mayor Rea of Mishawaka.....and then go for a drive along the river near downtown. This massive public works undertaking (by a Republican nonetheless) has been years in the making under Bob Beuter with Rea as his planning director. Best wishes to downtown South Bend...losing the Hall will be a blow, but you've set enough in motion it should only be a minor setback. I do hope negotiations will keep Rockne put.....and how about Notre Dame beating Boston College?
Trivia.....did you know that President Teddy Roosevelt almost banned the game of football? Numerous deaths (what do you expect with just a thin piece of leather between your skull and several hundred pounds of mass bearing down on you?) were occurring across college campuses from the American sport so Teddy got serious and told the colleges to put stricter rules in place to end the bloodbath. The Gipper also was found in the Hall.