Calgary wins bid for Sports Hall of Fame

Canada's new Sports Hall of Fame will be built in Calgary, beating out a bid from Toronto, organizers announced on Tuesday.

Canada's new Sports Hall of Fame will be built in Calgary, beating out a bid by Toronto, organizers announced on Tuesday.

The $30-million facility will be located in Canada Olympic Park after a successful pitch by the Calgary Sport Tourism Authority, which includes the Calgary Olympic Development Association, Tourism Calgary and the municipal and provincial governments.

Toronto was home to the Hall of Fame from 1955 until 2006, when parts of its building at the Canadian National Exhibition were torn down for a soccer stadium.

"It was evident that the City of Calgary would effectively mobilize community and private sector financial resources. They also offered a site where the population and the tourist potential would ensure long-term viability," said Keith Pelley, chairman of the hall's relocation committee, in a news release Tuesday.

Bob Hamilton, co-chair of the bid, added: "In addition to our strong sense of volunteerism, philanthropy and entrepreneurial spirit, our city boasts an unrivalled passion for sport."

Even though the Hall of Fame has not had a home for the last two years, it's continued to induct members.

At a gala dinner next Wednesday, former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics 4x100 relay team, and hockey player Steve Yzerman will be among those joining the 481 Canadian athletes in the Hall of Fame.

Other notable inductees over the past five decades have included Terry Fox, figure skater Kurt Browning, basketball inventor James Naismith, and Alberta Lt.-Gov. Norman Kwong, who played in the CFL.

The hall has also collected sports memorabilia such as the blades worn by figure skater Barbara Ann Scott when she won Olympic gold in 1948 and one of Maurice Richard's hockey sweaters.

The hall is embarking on a campaign to raise $50 million to cover the cost of construction and an endowment fund to go toward annual operating costs.

"One has to be sensitive to what's going on but at the same time, with the levels of commitment that we've already had, I think that that's the key and then the funds will flow as the economy returns," said Guy Huntingford, president and CEO of Canada Olympic Park.

Organizers plan to have the hall open by 2011 or 2012, but construction will not begin until all funding is in place, he said.