Mascot Hall of Famers make pitch to Whiting

2013-08-26T23:15:00Z 2013-11-25T10:39:06Z Mascot Hall of Famers make pitch to WhitingPaul Czapkowicz Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
August 26, 2013 11:15 pm  • 

WHITING | Representatives from the National Mascot Hall of Fame will visit Whiting on Sept. 9 to present marketing studies regarding whether the city might make a good permanent home for its hall.

The San Diego Chicken and the Phillie Phanatic are two of the more famous members of the online-only hall that has inducted legendary sports mascot performers since 2005.

The National Mascot Hall of Fame was founded by David Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic for the Philadelphia Phillies.

"They actually would like to hold an annual induction of mascots in downtown Whiting, including the mascot parade," Whiting Mayor Joseph Stahura said.

That is if a deal can be reached. Stahura said he considers the possibility "somewhere in the 50 percent range now."

Stahura believes the National Mascot Hall of Fame would fit right into Whiting's reputation of "being a little bit out of the norm."

"Pierogi Fest is a great example," he said. "It's really a wacky festival that is good family fun, and what better complement to the Pierogi Fest would be a Mascot Hall of Fame in downtown Whiting."

The plan to bring the National Mascot Hall of Fame to town stems from Stahura's goal of creating a museum to serve as a destination place for visitors. He said only a lack of funding has delayed the museum thus far.

A large portion of Stahura's ideal museum would house a history of the Standard Oil Co.

"We really want to create the local museum with the history of the refinery and the history of our community," Stahura said. "But we're all fully aware that to make an investment for a small city like us into a building just for that would be not only more risky, but we'd have a more difficult time to sustain it."

Stahura wants to build separate wings onto a museum.

"We've been in discussions for almost a year with a group called the Chicago Baseball Museum," Stahura said. "I feel very confident that if we build our museum, the Chicago Baseball Museum will be in the second wing and they'll come here."

Stahura said the Chicago Baseball Museum has struggled to find a permanent physical home in Chicago and has just an online presence.

He said the Chicago Baseball Museum would provide a history of all Chicago baseball teams, including the Cubs, White Sox, Negro League, women's baseball, 16-inch softball and college baseball.

"Our proximity to Chicago is actually playing enormously in our favor," Stahura said. "To do the same thing that these groups want to do in Whiting in Chicago would cost them 10 or 20 times more from a startup cost perspective than it would in Whiting."

Stahura said building a museum would be paid for through a bonding plan, and largely depending on how many wings it might have, could cost between $6 million and $12 million.

Stahura said any building would not only serve as a museum, but also as a gathering place for special occasions.

Stahura does not expect any announcement on the museum to occur until spring at the earliest.

"We're trying to do what's right for our community by attracting people here so we can sustain our business district and help improve it and even make it thrive, and this is a great tool that we can use to be able to bring people to our community," he said.

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