When the 55-year-old Florida Sports Hall of Fame partnered with Polk County’s Sports Marketing brand in 2010 the hope was to provide the people of Florida and tourists alike seamless access to the artifacts and memorabilia collected over the years from the state’s greatest sports celebrities.
With the completion and February 11 opening of a sparkling new Preview Center here in the geographic center of Florida, the storied organization seems to have found its sweet spot. Since the ribbon was cut at the Visitor Welcome center near the intersection of I-4 and U.S. 27 just over a month ago, nearly 6,000 people have visited the display.
“This is exactly what we had hoped,” said Barry Smith, President of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. “The people in Polk County embraced this project and created a very fitting space in one of the most highly traveled locations in our state. While our membership and our outreach extend to every corner of Florida, we now have a shining beacon in the middle of the state above which we can fly our flag.”
The Hall’s Preview Center was housed at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex in Polk County beginning in 2010 while the preparations were underway to customize this highly accessible site. The opening of the new center came on the heels of one of the organization’s most successful enshrinement events in November as popular Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach Tony Dungy led a stellar class of inductees.