Nova Scotia

Rising rent leaves Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame homeless

Hall of fame president Bruce Rainnie says the search is on for a larger, more affordable space.

Sports memorabilia put into storage and hall of fame says it could take 2 years to find a new home

The Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame celebrates local athletes like Sidney Crosby. (The Canadian Press)

The Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame has put its entire collection into storage and is looking for a new home.

It's been located at the old World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax for the past 15 years but Bruce Rainnie, the hall of fame president, said the rent was becoming too expensive.

"We couldn't match what [our landlord] was asking so our board decided that we'd move on and try to find a bigger and better space," he said. "We're going to emerge from this as the best provincial sports hall of fame in the country."

Rainnie said the hall relies on fundraisers like golf tournaments, dinners and bingos to cover its operating costs, but COVID-19 put a stop to a lot of that. 

"Our inability to raise funds over the past four months, I would say, plays a role in this. It made us more uncomfortable with the rent increase that was asked," Rainnie said.

The space has been completely cleared out and Rainnie said the entire museum has been packed up and put into storage.

Landlord says they tried to make a deal

Armco Capital, the landlord, told CBC News in an email the hall of fame's original lease was with the former owner and had expired. Vice-president Steven Darrow said the rent was "next to nothing" at less than $5 per square foot on the rented area.

"We reached a verbal agreement to renew the lease for five years, at an increased rent, offset by certain donations, which was still a 60 to 70 per cent discount to market rent, and did not cover our operating costs (effectively running at a loss)," Darrow wrote.

"[The] Hall of Fame verbally agreed to the lease renewal, and later changed their mind and rejected, citing COVID-19/fundraising reasons."

Leo Glavine, Nova Scotia's Communities Culture and Heritage Minister, says he was surprised to hear that the hall of fame and its landlord couldn't agree to a deal. (CBC)

Leo Glavine, Nova Scotia's minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage, told reporters on Thursday that he is surprised a deal couldn't be reached.

But he does think this represents an opportunity for other venues to consider housing the hall of fame.

"We, of course, provide operational grant support to the hall of fame so we're very, very interested in making sure they get a home as soon as possible, as this is one of those iconic places that impacts really all of Nova Scotia since we have athletes in there from all parts of the province [and] they get a very high number of visitors each year," Glavine said.

Rising rent leaves Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame homeless

3 years ago
Duration 2:06
The Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame was located on Argyle Street for 15 years.

Rainnie said he's sorry to leave the space because of its proximity to the Scotiabank Centre, where fans passed by it on their way to games. "It's been a great location." 

He hopes the hall of fame will stay in Halifax because of its population density.

"I think any location where there are a lot of people around, a lot of kids around, a lot of schools that can visit easily and park and get in and out easily, that's what we're hoping for [in a new space]," Rainnie said.

Rainnie said he's hoping a new home could be secured in the next 18 to 24 months.

An empty shelf at the former Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame. The collection is in storage. (CBC)

As the hall of fame looks for a new space, a virtual version of it will be online, where all artifacts, inductees, staff contact info and programming can be found.

It will also continue to run its Future Hall of Famers education program to students across Nova Scotia.

The hall of fame's annual induction night is scheduled to return in November 2021.

With files from Colleen Jones