After giving $106,000 over the past decade toward a facility not yet under construction, the Nicholasville Tourism Commission (NTC) is placing stricter guidelines on the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame (KPFHOF) Board before it commits to another $100,000.
During Friday’s special-called meeting, the members of the tourism board made it clear that any more funds NTC gives the hall-of-fame committee would go toward actual construction, not operating costs.
The NTC has agreed to donate $100,000 over the next five years to the hall-of-fame committee for the purpose of constructing a facility consisting of a multi-use synthetic turf, a stadium and the KPFHOF.
Last Friday morning, members of the NTC spent 50 minutes hashing out the parameters of a letter of intent, which will dictate how tourism funds will be used.
“We’re not here to build this whole facility; we can’t,” NTC president Stephanie Routt said. “We’re just here to designate some funds for a portion.”
The KPFHOF has been in the works for more than a decade, and the NTC has been supporting the project from its inception.
“In the (hall of fame) group, we have formed a fundraising committee,” NTC member Ken Cox, who also serves on the hall-of-fame committee, said. “My history is very limited, but from what I’ve heard, the tourism commission has given much funding to the group. I personally think that’s where the tourism money should continue to go. I’m not comfortable with us giving funding for operating expenses for the football group.”
Tourism member Tommy Cobb told the board that KPFHOF chairperson Jim Ed Shearer had requested the tourism board allow funds for “soft costs.”
Shearer described “soft costs” as administrative and technical functions.
“It’s stuff we had to have done such as plans for the stadium, and we’ve got people right now working on a website for us, and stationery and stuff like that,” Shearer said. “We’re going to do some fundraisers in the spring to go into the general fund so we don’t have to use any money that is donated for the actual stadium.”
Shearer said funding of the “soft costs” is needed until money starts rolling in from the planned fundraisers.
But NTC member Dave Wash, who also serves as treasurer on the KPFHOF committee, said tourism should not earmark money for “soft costs.”
“I know what Jim Ed wants to do because I know what bills they incur because Tommy and I write the checks,” Wash said. “They still have enough money in the operating account to pay the bills, so that’s not a problem.”
According to Cobb, the KPFHOF currently has $8,719.54 in its accounts for both building and operational costs.
Wash and Cox also said the KPFHOF have a fundraising committee in place and any operational costs should be paid out of fundraising efforts.
NTC treasurer Roberta Warren said originally, the NTC was going to earmark the $100,000 to be used for a synthetic field, but after mulling it over, she did not feel that was the best course of action.
“I have no problem with making the contribution of $100,000, but I don’t want us to end up with a field with nothing surrounding it,” she said. “I don’t want to have people sitting in (lawn) chairs or sitting in cheap bleachers. I want it to be the project we all envision.”
The proposed letter of intent will spell out what the NTC expects in return for the $100,000 over the next five years. To that end, the NTC decided that they would control the funds in an account earmarked solely for the project.
Cobb, who serves as president of Town Square Bank, said the NTC should release money the same way a bank does on large projects.
“We require, on projects of this scale, to have an engineer or an architect to sign off stating this project is ‘X’ amount complete,” Cobb said. “If they come to us for a withdrawal, we can say, ‘Based on your completeness, we’ve allocated $100,000, but we’re only going to be able to give you ‘X’ percentage, provided it falls within our time frame.’”