Posts Tagged ‘RV/MH Hall of Fame’
The RV/MH Hall of Fame continues to open its doors every day, playing host to the streams of RVers eager to view the industry’s past and present depicted in the array of eye-catching and instructive displays.
That in itself is an accomplishment, says Tom McNulty, who took the reins as executive director of the financially strapped museum around eight months ago. “When I first came on board, there were people that were saying we wouldn’t last two months,” he said. “But we’re still here, and our hope is we’ll be here for the long run.
“There are some good things happening and actually our cash flow is better than it’s been in a couple of years. Attendance during the summer was 100 to 150 people a day and we are seeing greater returns from our convention center.”
McNulty is by no means trying to mask the financial quandary that fostered those doomsday predictions. The hall, which officially opened in March of 2007 on the northeast side of Elkhart, Ind., continues to run in the red, exacerbated by the country’s economic collapse and a resulting accumulation of debt that came to a head in the past year.
“We are still in the throes of negotiating our debt,” McNulty said. “At times we think we see the light at the end of the tunnel, but then someone turns off the switch. It’s very frustrating to say the least.”
Leaders from the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Ind., wanted to develop a lot east of the building using Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, district funds. They argued the expansion would attract more bookings and increase profits, WSBT-TV, South Bend, reported.
The RV Hall of Fame was ready to start an ambitious expansion project. But financial troubles put those plans on hold.
Tom McNulty, the Hall’s executive director, did not want to talk to WSBT News before his scheduled appearance with the redevelopment commission on Thursday afternoon (May 26).
But McNulty’s plan was simple: scale down the original expansion just east of the Hall.
McNulty’s pitch is an $800,000 investment which includes an outdoor exhibit space, complete with the addition of lighting fixtures, fountains, landscaping and other improvements.
McNulty believes the expansion would make it more successful, and ultimately more profitable.
But there was a catch…
“The bottom line is, is this a good use of TIF funds?” asked Mike Yoder, Elkhart County commissioner.
The non-profit wanted public funds to pay for the investment. Without a sound business plan or details on how the Hall would reduce debt or increase profits, the commissioners said they had no choice but to pump the brakes.
“I think the lack of a very clear, detailed plan is what’s holding this up,” said Yoder.
The redevelopment commission will allow the Hall to submit their proposal again, if the plan includes how the Hall will decrease debt.
One possible strategy outlined in the business plan is selling the RV/MH Hall of Fame building and property and using the proceeds to retire debt and fund operations. The Foundation would then simply rent the property.
Another strategy calls for the Foundation to more aggressively market the Hall of Fame as an event center. “We will move the vintage units out of the Ingram hall to make that space completely available for event, increasing the number and size of events previously not possible, simply by re-prioritizing the use of the current facility,” the report states.
One controversial strategy, which has previously been floated, is accepting funding from Camping World in exchange for naming rights and property leases for a multi-acre RV parts and accessories retail store at the site. “Because this opportunity is controversial with a number of constituents it needs to be approached with a clear strategy,” the report notes.
Other strategies outlined in the report include appealing to the Ingram family, which holds much of the debt for the facility, to reduce the debt load and/or the terms of the loans; asking David Woodworth to reduce the amount owed him (approximately $750,000) for his vintage RV collection which is housed at the museum; and working with First Source Bank, which is owed $900,000, on obtaining more favorable lending terms.
The business plan also notes that salaries for RV/MH Hall of Fame staff members were cut last year and that the president’s position was eliminated, generating savings. Finally, the plan notes that, after the Foundation stabilizes its current situation, it intends to hire a new president that will help develop the professionalism of the Foundation’s operations and raise the awareness and appeal of the event center, museum and Hall of Fame.