WHITING | A memorandum of understanding that states the National Mascot Hall of Fame will come to Whiting if the city builds a structure and raises funds for exhibits is scheduled to be approved at the city's Redevelopment Commission meeting on Oct. 8.
On that same day, a Mascot Hall of Fame Kickoff event in conjunction with the agreement is scheduled to take place from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Oil City Stadium.
Mayor Joseph Stahura said at least five or six mascots are expected to be on hand to sign autographs after the event.
"It should be a real fun day," he said.
Stahura announced last year the city was in discussions with the hall, which now has a mainly online presence.
He said the Hall of Fame has already executed its end of the memorandum of understanding.
"The city is prepared to invest in a new building, which will be the home of the Hall of Fame," Stahura said.
He said the city will hire an executive director and a fundraising team to raise funds for the exhibits that would go into the hall.
"The majority of the investment is already committed by the city," Stahura said.
He estimated an approximately 25,000 square foot building that would be constructed on vacant, city-owned land at the corner of Front and 119 Streets will likely come at a cost of about $8 million, to be paid for with tax increment financing bonds.
"And then there's still an approximate $4 to $5 million dollars that need to be raised for the exhibits," Stahura said.
He said if all goes well, ground could be broken for the structure in the spring or summer, if not sooner.
The National Mascot Hall of Fame was founded by David Raymond, who originated the popular Phillie Phanatic mascot for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Raymond could not be reached Thursday for comment.
Some of the other mascots in the hall include the Famous Chicken, the Suns Gorilla and Sparty, of Michigan State University.
Stahura said there would likely be a mascot parade held in conjunction with the hall's induction weekend, as well as an annual convention.
Stahura said giving the hall a home in Whiting is key to making the city a destination point so the city's business district will thrive and expand.
"It's gonna have absolute national exposure," he said.