Hall hopes to have home

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:54 AM ET

After years of neglect, the Ontario Sport Legends Hall of Fame could be coming to a town near you.

The Hall, which honoured its first inductees in 1995 but none since 2004, should have a permanent home by late summer or early fall.

"It's needed, and we are the only (province) that does not have one," Hall board member Tracy Gray said yesterday at a Toronto restaurant, where the 2009 inductees were announced. "It sort of faded away and now it has been resurrected and is back on track."

Other than trophies for individual honourees, the Hall did not have a concrete way of recognizing its members. That should change later this year, when a town in Ontario -- Brockville could be the front-runner -- will be selected to house the Hall. Though 'house' is a loose term -- the board envisions a park-like setting, where each of the 80-plus honourees would be remembered with a small pedestal or bust. Twenty locales in Ontario were contacted by the board and approximately half made it clear they would be interested in becoming the Hall's home.

The board hopes to get funding for a travelling Hall to be taken to various towns across the province for tournaments and other events.

PARK OR WALKING MALL

"We don't like to have a huge tax burden, mortgages, heavy maintenance bills, tax bills, stuff like that," Gray said. "So we're looking more at something that would be like a park or a walking mall. Something a town could maintain at its own leisure, within its budget.

"We were looking at places with the (previous) board, but it fizzled and died. Not through lack of interest from communities, more that the board at the time just did not put the effort toward it. And we have to change that."

The group of inductees for 2009 include Michael (Pinball) Clemons, Elvis Stojko, Ted Lindsay, Doug Flutie, marathon swimmer Cliff Lumsdon and the curling team of Ed Werenich, Paul Savage, John Kawaja and Neil Harrison. The new members will be inducted formally on Sept. 16.

The Hall also named show jumper Eric Lamaze the winner of its Syl Apps Award (the 2008 athlete of the year).

Past inductees include George Chuvalo, Bobby Orr, Joe Carter and former Toronto Sun sports columnist Jim Hunt.

Savage, Harrison and Kim Lumsdon, a daughter of Cliff, attended the unofficial ceremony yesterday.

"It's good for the kids to see different athletes who have been world-class," Kim Lumsdon said of the Hall's resurrection. "My dad died at a young age, and I am glad I am here to support him."

TERRY.KOSHAN@SUNMEDIA.CA


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