NEW ORLEANS – Hopes by the Hall of Fame to take the revolutionary step of including fan voting to help decide enshrinement have been delayed at least one more year as officials continue to struggle to find a partner for the project.
“It really all comes down to a sponsor issue, about finding the right sponsor to help us execute that,” said John Doleva, the president of the basketball museum in Springfield, Mass. “We’ve had discussions and nothing has transpired yet, so we’re going to go through the process that we’ve had over the past several years. With the changes that Mr. (Jerry) Colangelo (Hall chairman) has done to be more inclusive is great. We’d love to engage the fans. We think it is a sellable opportunity, but it’s an opportunity we have not yet been able to find the right partner.”
The Hall has been working to refine the plan that would give the election results the same weight as the current format of needing 18 of a possible 24 votes for enshrinement. The proposed format would increase the number of chances to 25, a popular decision in some circles because it encourages fan involvement and a concerning turn in others because it adds an element of popularity contest that can create problems, as witnessed by All-Star balloting some years.
Either way, the Hall has no intention to move forward without a sponsor to help in marketing.
“We work to try to do it every year,” Doleva said. “We think about the opportunity for fans to go to a website, whether it’s the Hall of Fame website or a sponsor’s website, and being able to vote for this list of 10 finalists and have an impact. It’s not just an opinion poll. It’s the top three people would get an additional to help them maybe get into the Hall of Fame. We’re actually talking about the fan having an opportunity to impact who goes in. We continue to market that.”
Doleva remains hopeful the format could be introduced for voting on the Class of 2015. In the meantime, balloting will move forward for the current set of finalists from the North American and Women’s committees, with the winners to be announced at the Final Four in Arlington, Tex., in April.