Hall of Fame Seeks Permanent Home
Author: Kevin Cooney
The stage sat on the east end of the building, right under the banner that declared the conclusion of the Phantoms' run at the Spectrum.
But as Ken Avallon sat facing what was once the blue line of the old sardine can, he spoke about the bright future that he sees for the potential new home of the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.
"We're right now moving along at the same pace as a lot of our colleagues in other parts of the country," said Avallon, the president of the organization and one of the driving forces behind the concept of a hall over the past decade. "If you look at the way things went in Denver, they were founding in the 1960s and it took them almost 30 years to get a permanent display. That's an example, but we don't want to be on a 30-year plan."
The Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame went about announcing its sixth induction class Wednesday morning at the soon-to-be demolished arena in South Philadelphia.
Currently, the organization is based out of a building in the Northern Liberties section of the city, with no permanent exhibit set up. Loads of archived materials are being stored there, hoping to eventually be turned into a destination spot for the region's die-hard fans.
"Right now, we're discussing a few different locations with some people," Avallon said. "We feel as though that we are progressing along and we were on a real nice arc. But the economy has thrown us for a bit of a loop."
Avallon refused to discuss some of the spots that are being discussed for a possible hall, citing non-disclosure agreements with those locations not to make public their negotiations. There are a few that he would discuss, including the Atwater Kent Museum. According to Avallon, there have also been "preliminary" discussions with officials at the new "Philly Live" complex that will be built in the Spectrum's footprint.
"We have a lot of different things in the works, but we had a lot of people pull back with the economy," Avallon said. "So we decided to take a step back and take a look around."
The sixth induction class is highlighted by four huge names - former Phillies shortstop Larry Bowa; 1973 Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti from Penn State and Monsignor Bonner; former Eagles tight end and general manager Pete Retzlaff and Norristown native turned Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. The "Broad Street Bullies" editions of the Flyers were also being inducted as a team.
Among the other names that were being inducted were Philadelphia A's standout Eddie Collins; former WBA and WBC middleweight champion Joey Giardello; two-time Olympic gold medalist Charlie Jenkins from Villanova; Philadelphia Warriors center Neil Johnston; Negro Leagues legend Judy Johnson; field hockey and lacrosse standout Betty Shellenberger; defensive back/kick returner Emlen Tunnell from Radnor; and Mel Sheppard, the first man to win Olympic gold medals in the 800 and 1500 at the same Olympics (1908 in London.)
The two media inductees are Eagles play-by-play man Merrill Reese and Daily News columnist Bill Conlin.
The induction ceremony will take place November 12 at the Hyatt Regency at Penn's Landing. Tickets are available at www.phillyhall.org.