Former Disney Exec to Develop Resort at Pro Football Hall of Fame

    • Facility plans include a football-themed water park, hotels, retail space, a research building and apartments.
    • Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment, the company behind the development, already built a stadium and sports complex at the Hall.

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Former Walt Disney Co. executive Michael Crawford is moving forward with plans to develop a Disneyland-esque resort at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. 

The Canton, Ohio facility would include a “football-themed water park, hotels, retail space, a research building and, ultimately, apartments,” according to the report. 

Crawford leads the company behind the development, Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment, which already built a stadium and sports complex at the Hall. The company is hoping to begin phase two of construction later this year. In total, the project is slated to cost $300 million and be completed by the end of 2022.

Investors are banking on an increase in the public’s appetite for sports on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The people’s hunger and desire to consume sports and be in environments like arenas and stadiums and destinations like this will be at an all-time high,” Crawford said. “We will be building in a down market and opening in an up market.”

The company also got into the sports betting market in June by buying the majority stake in The Crown League, a Utah-based fantasy football league.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Crawford hopes that branching out the business will “help reassure investors at the time hotels and theme parks are attracting few guests.” He also has plans to create an original television show about “young football players trying to become professionals.”

In September 2019, Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment (then known as Hall of Fame Village) went public by merging with Gordon Pointe Acquisition Corp. in a transaction valued at $390 million.

Crawford told the Wall Street Journal that “developers initially planned to raise between $60 million and $80 million when they agreed to merge last year,” but ended up with $31 million after some shareholders backed out amid the pandemic. 

“I think we were very lucky to retain the amount that we did,” Crawford said, adding that he “plans to raise more equity” and is “in talks with banks over a construction loan of more than $200 million.”