By BRUCE LOWITT
© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 30, 2001
ORLANDO -- The Florida Sports Hall of Fame Foundation voted Sunday to solicit bids from communities interested in housing the museum now in Lake City -- and $90,000 in debt.
The Hall sits behind a tourist welcome center off Exit 82 on Interstate 75, in north Florida. It will remain there until a new home is found.
Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando and Lakeland have expressed some interest, "but so far (the communities) have been reacting to media reports. If they're interested, this gives them time to formalize a proposal," said Harvey Campbell, former director of the Hall and executive director of the Columbia County Tourist Development Council.
"I think (the foundation) would like to be in position to make a decision within six months that we can either stay (in Lake City) and it's viable or we need to move and here's who'd like to have us," he said.
"It will take substantial financial support from the state (Gov. Jeb Bush has vetoed a $250,000 grant to the Hall two of the past three years) or private sources," he said.
"We've either got to get the governor's office to embrace it and put it in the budget or it's an exercise in futility. That's been pretty clear," Campbell said. "But the economic fact is that this is a tough year to come up with new money when they're going to do well just to cover existing stuff."