2017-10-19 / Front Page

Exclusive: Sailing Hall of Fame Looks at City

By Lynne Tungett

Gary Jobson (Photo by Meri Keller) Gary Jobson (Photo by Meri Keller) Prior to the Newport City Council workshop on Oct. 18, Gary Jobson, president of the National Sailing Hall of Fame, stopped by the Newport This Week offices to share with us his thoughts about the Sailing Hall of Fame’s possible relocation.

Since March, the Sailing Hall of Fame has been entertaining the idea of relocating its headquarters, currently a 1,800-square-foot facility on a 4,800-square-foot piece of property on City Dock in Annapolis, Maryland. Rumors have been swirling since then that the Hall of Fame, with all the swagger and history of an ancient mariner, might relocate to the City by the Sea.

“The deal with the state of Maryland is that we need to have $9.5 million before we can build a building. We have $2.1 million in the bank, and I’m happy to report we have no debt. We did get a grant from the state for $1.25 million to be used for construction, engineering, and design.”

According to Jobson, three options for the Hall of Fame are on the table: Stay in Annapolis, move to Newport, or, if the first two options aren't viable or too expensive, become a cyber organization that operates primarily online.

The first is certainly a possibility, but the organization needs more room, according to Jobson. “Our building is not big enough,” he said. “It has become unusable because of some flooding and mold. And the dock is not in good shape either.”

And the latter isn’t ideal for Jobson, who also chairs the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, has penned 19 books on sailing, and was Ted Turner’s tactician aboard Courageous, the boat the took first place in the 1977 America’s Cup. He likes the idea of a brick-and-mortar space.

“For me, as a long-time supporter of sailing all across the world,” Jobson said, “it would really be nice if there was a facility where people could come in and understand the sport. What is this sport all about? Who are the heroes of this sport?”

In March, Jobson visited Newport and met with Mayor Harry Winthrop and City Manager Joseph Nicholson to tour the three-story Armory building, a facility currently used to accommodate visiting sailors, which also houses Armory Antique Marketplace.

“It was early days, but putting my national hat on, [our] fiduciary responsibility was to take a look and see what this is all about,” Jobson said. “And the board supported it and said go take a look.”

In late July, Jobson returned with a group of five board members, including three from Annapolis and two from Newport to consider next steps.

On his way out the door of the NTW office to the City Council workshop, Jobson explained what his duty was at the meeting.

“I’m here to tell everybody what we’re about, and answer questions,” he said. “But at the same time, I want to take the temperature here of Newport. Do people want it? Are we going to get a lot of pushback?”

The 28-member board will hold two or three meetings after they review the financial report, which is expected by Thanksgiving, then take a vote and then Jobson will update the governor of Maryland on the decision regarding the viability of the three options.

“In Newport you have the Tennis Hall of Fame that’s really five-star. Let’s face it, this is a great sailing town, and so is Annapolis,” he said. “Either way, you could flip a coin and both would be good.”

Joseph T. O’Connor contributed to this report.

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