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Whig Standard September 19 2007

New quarters cosy for hall of fame; In six years, attraction could run out of room

Posted By Frank Armstrong

Volunteers who run the city's sports hall of fame are raring to move the attraction into its new home in the downtown arena, but they fear the space it has been allotted won't be large enough.

"As far as the long term, it may not be adequate, to be quite frank," said Bill Huntley, president of the Kingston and District Sports Hall of Fame.

The hall of fame has been located in a hallway in the Memorial Centre since 1996 and will be moved into the downtown arena when it opens in February.

It will receive roughly 100 square metres of office and storage space on the second floor, an undetermined amount of space for display cases and space for 144 plaques on the main floor.

Among the 110 plaques on display at the Memorial Centre are those of National Hockey League greats such as Kirk Muller, Doug Gilmour and Bob Murray as well as marathon swimmer Vicki Keith and hockey commentator Don Cherry.

The new space at the downtown arena, which will probably be located on the main floor concourse between Ontario Street and Place D'Armes, will allow the display space for plaques to grow by five new inductees per year for six years.

Huntley said that growth rate was provided to the city by the hall of fame, though it has never inducted as few as five new members in any of its 11 years. It's possible the rate of inductees could surpass five per year so that the gallery would prematurely run out of space, he said.

"If there happens to be seven or eight nominees and they all receive support from the selection committee, then seven or eight could go in."

Having said that, Huntley said other halls of fame have experienced a dwindling number of inductees over time.

"It settles down to a constant figure for some reason," he said.

The folks who run the sports hall haven't determined what they'll do once there's no more space in the gallery.

"Where there's a will, there's a way, and we will deal with it as it comes," Huntley said.

"In the meantime," Huntley added, "we are dealing with what we have in front of us."

Although the exact display space hasn't been determined, the plaques will be hung three high as opposed to the single rows now up at the Memorial Centre.

Lanie Hurdle, the city's director of project development, said the walls and piers between the main entrance to the arena and the club entrance will be reserved for the hall of fame plaques. The city will also consider using corners near the ends of walls.

Other options will be examined once the arena opens, Hurdle said.

The 100 square metres of storage and office space alone won't be enough for the hall of fame, but it will be sufficient when coupled with an existing 100 square metres of storage space provided by the city at the Memorial Centre.

Hurdle said the details of the new storage and office space haven't yet been finalized, but the city will continue to provide the storage space at the Memorial Centre until proposed renovations begin at the aging arena. That space will include Internet and phone access.

The sports hall of fame is one of a number of features altered or moved since the original designs of the building were received, Hurdle said.

The gallery was initially going to be housed in a separate room on the main floor, she said. Because the original August 2005 design was merely a concept drawing, she said she doesn't know exactly what size it was to be or how many plaques it would have held.

"The plaques were moved to the main concourse, which is where most people are going to gather to buy food or to socialize - that's going to be the busy spot," she said.

The new gallery location is considered superior because the original location was to have glass walls.

"You can't hang a whole bunch of plaques on glass," she said.