WHITING — Four new members for the Mascot Hall of Fame were announced Monday, and it appears fundraising efforts to install the interior displays at its Whiting home are going well.
Benny the Bull and Tommy Hawk, the mascots of the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks respectively, will be among the four new members, announced Dave Raymond, the hall founder and the original Phillie Phanatic, during a Facebook Live event Monday morning.
The other members slated for induction are Sluggerrr of the Kansas City Royals and the Penn State Nittany Lion.
"Congratulations to that fabulous bird," Raymond said in announcing Tommy Hawk's selection. He also said that Benny the Bull is probably the most overdue induction into the hall.
They will be officially inducted during the grand opening of the Mascot Hall of Fame next year.
The hall has so far existed only online, but a 25,000-square-foot building to house the facility is currently under construction at 119th and Front streets in Whiting.
The exterior of the building and furnishings are being paid for through an $8.5 million bond issue authorized last year by the Whiting Redevelopment Commission. The bonds are to be paid off from tax increment financing revenue created by the district that include the Hall of Fame. The city is seeking to raise between $4 million and $5 million in donations to help with exhibits and initial operating costs.
The interior features are expected to include interactive exhibits designed to appeal to children, according to officials. Raymond said the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians have become partners and provided funding for the facility. He expects more announcements of additional partners soon.
The four new mascots were among a group of six who qualified for induction into the Mascot Hall of Fame, according to a release from the city. Executives with the Mascot Hall of Fame solicited applications from professional and collegiate sports organizations throughout the country whose mascots met the required criteria, which included being a mascot for at least five years.
The other two nominees were Stuff from the Orlando Magic and the University of Georgia's Hairy Dawg. The three-step selection process included a public vote, a vote from lifetime voting members, and a vote from an appointed executive committee made up of sports industry professionals. The first two steps each accounted for 25 percent of the final tally with the last step counting for 50 percent.
Some of the other 17 members of the Mascot Hall of Fame include the Phillie Phanatic of the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Mets' Mr. Met, the University of Wisconsin's Bucky the Badger, and Ohio State University's Brutus Buckeye.