College Football Hall of Fame damage downgraded; not as extensive as first thought

The College Football Hall of Fame is now boarded up following a destructive night of protests in downtown Atlanta.

Rioters and protesters broke into the 95,000-square-foot building Friday night, destroying display cases in the street-level gift shop and looting the contents. Fortunately however the facility’s most valuable trophies and artifacts are located further indoors and were untouched. These items have now been moved to a secure facility in case additional trouble breaks out amid nationwide unrest over the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, the handcuffed black man who was killed after pleading to police that he could not breathe.

Kimberly Beaudin, the hall’s chief executive officer, said the extensive glass facade of the nearly 95,000-square-foot building was shattered. But, other than some broken glass that fell into a large exhibition area shaped like a football field, the interior of the hall was not breached by the protesters.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Beaudin was relieved:

“All of it can repaired. All of it can be recovered. All of the merchandise can be replaced. We’re very thankful.”

Previously located in South Bend, Indiana, the Hall of Fame opened a new $68.5 million facility in Atlanta in 2014, taking a prime spot adjacent to the Georgia World Congress Center and right across the street from Centennial Olympic Park.

It is part of a hub of downtown tourist attractions that also includes the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, CNN Center, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and a giant Ferris wheel.

That area became the epicenter of Atlanta’s protests over Floyd’s death. Thousands of people jammed the streets, clashing with police and damaging businesses.

The Hall of Fame had been making plans to reopen after shutting down in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Beaudin said those plans likely will be pushed back because of the time needed to make repairs.

The front of the facility has now been boarded up and the collection of historic items — including a Heisman Trophy, a national championship trophy and countless other items documenting the history of college football — have been removed from the hall.

“We very much wanted to get our eyes on everything,” Beaudin said. “We took the extra precaution to … move all the valuable artifacts, the trophies and everything else. We wanted to take an abundance of caution, so we moved them off site to a secure facility. There are some iconic items. We don’t want them falling into the wrong hands.”

Source: Associated Press

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