Despite its size, West Virginia has produced a significant number of athletes and teams through the years that have distinguished themselves by successfully competing at the highest levels in sport. While some athletes have gained national notoriety after pursuing professional or Olympic careers elsewhere, strong connections to the Mountain State have followed them around the country and throughout the world.
While some regional attempts have been made to preserve the heritage and history of a few individuals and isolated sports teams, the State of West Virginia lacks a central facility to document and showcase sports culture in the Mountain State.
Moreover, many West Virginia high schools with rich athletic traditions have been closed due to population swings and their histories, in part, have been lost to consolidation. Will future generations remember the great individual players and teams produced by West Virginia high schools such as East Bank, Mullens, North Fork, Monongah, Green Bank, Farmington, Huntington Vinson, Harts, Wellsburg, or Stonewall Jackson, just to name a few?
Will future West Virginians recall the significant contributions made by African-American athletes who played for the Mountain State’s segregated schools or on coal company sponsored teams semi-pro baseball teams in southern West Virginia?
The City of South Charleston is leading an effort to preserve and showcase our sports heritage and promote the idea of by building a permanent West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. A permanent Hall of Fame and Museum would help document and celebrate the accomplishments of the great sports history of our state. The City of South Charleston intends to build a facility that would include exhibit halls for both permanent and rotating exhibits, a movie theater where viewers can watch the exploits of former great players and teams in action, interactive exhibits for children, a virtual library that individuals can use for research and housed in a structure with enough space to accommodate banquets and special events. We envision a Hall of Fame that would attract exhibits on loan from other historic and educational facilities such as high school, colleges and universities throughout the state.
The estimated the cost to build the nearly 11,000 square foot Hall of Fame will be in the range of $3-5 million. South Charleston Mayor Frank Mullens has appointed a Hall of Fame Committee to begin the planning and feasibility of the project.
Some of the greatest athletes in the world grew up in West Virginia and have competed at the highest levels. For older generations, names like Jerry West, Mary Lou Retton, Hal Greer, Clair Bee, Sam Huff, Cam Henderson, Randy Barnes, James Jett, Frank “Gunner Gaski”, Vicki Bullet, Sam Sneed, Billy Campbell, Earl Lloyd and John McKay are household names but members of the West Virginia Hall of Fame and Museum want their legacies and connections to the great state of West Virginia to be etched in the memories of future generations.
The construction of the permanent Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will be divided among three primary areas: 1) Acquiring a suitable site that will provide easy access and ample parking for visitors; 2) Securing funds to build the structure; and 3) Meeting all criteria and certification for operating a museum.