VIRGINIA BEACH — The opening ceremony for the new Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Walk was held Monday afternoon in the lobby of the Clark Nexsen Tower in Virginia Beach’s Central Business District at Town Center.
Dubbed “Walk the Hall,” this audience engagement concept replaces the former Virginia Sports Hall of Fame Museum in Portsmouth.
Walk the Hall is a free, self-guided walking tour of a series of Sports Hall of Fame exhibits honoring Virginia’s legendary athletes and champions, housed in six locations throughout Town Center. Prominently displayed QR codes, which can be scanned via cell phone at each location, provide information about the exhibits.
The Hall of Honor, a display of more than 300 wall plaques bearing the names of inductees, served as a backdrop for the brief ceremony. Welcoming statements from Virginia Sports Hall of Fame chairman Joel Rubin and president Eddie Webb, along with Central Business District Association officer Steve McNulty and City Council member Jim Wood, conveyed their shared excitement about Walk the Hall, as well as their gratitude for the sponsorship and collaborative efforts that transformed an innovative concept into reality.
“One of the benefits of this setup is that visitors will not be beholden to the confines of four walls. The exhibits can be viewed on your own terms,” Will Driscoll, director of sales and marketing at Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, said
Driscoll says that the QR codes are “scanned by your phones, not downloaded, so the information is more easily accessible.”
In addition to the Clark Nexsen Tower, other Walk the Hall exhibits are located in the lobbies of One and Two Columbus Centers, The Armada Hoffler Tower, the Westin Virginia Beach, and 249 Central Park Ave. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.
The concept of a walking tour came about through collaborative efforts between officials from Virginia Beach, Armada Hoffler, Divaris Real Estate, and the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
“We had to establish a new model and move away from relying on the government for our primary funding. We needed a location and set-up that would appeal to sponsors,” Rubin, the hall’s chairman, said.
Walk the Hall is an innovative response to decreased government funding. The concept utilizes modern technology and establishes a model for additional self-guided tours to continue integrating cultural and historical features with the promotion of local businesses.
Citing a Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development report, Driscoll said, “Thirty percent of overnight visitors to the Oceanfront also visit Town Center.” He added, “Walk the Hall is a new way to attract more visitors to the area.” Increased foot traffic throughout Town Center will attract more customers for Central Business District stores and restaurants.
Eddie Webb, hall of fame president, said that the walking tour concept cut the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame’s operating budget by more than fifty percent.
“This new idea benefits merchants and appeals to local sponsors,” Webb said. “It’s a win-win.”
Following Monday’s ceremony was a sold-out special event at Funny Bones Comedy Club at Town Center. The interactive baseball discussion program, “Hoos on First” was moderated by Rubin, who is also the former sports director for WAVY News 10. Participants included major league baseball players Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals, Mark Reynolds, most recently of the Colorado Rockies, and Chris Taylor of the Los Angeles Dodgers, all of whom are natives of Virginia Beach and attended the University of Virginia.
According to Rubin, “Hoos on First” was one of a planned series of events. Next will be the 2018 Hall of Fame Induction, to take place at the Sandler Center in April. Rubin also stated that plans are being made to add more Sports Hall of Fame exhibits to several Virginia Beach recreational centers throughout the city.
For additional information, visit www.VaSportsHOF.com