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Our Opinion: Crunch Time for Elkhart’s HOF

Picture 1Looking at everything from the 30,000-foot level, it’s easy to stand back and make shrewd observations about how best to go about saving – or not saving – the RV/MH Heritage Foundation Inc.’s Hall of Fame.

That, frankly, is what most of us have been doing for the past couple of months since learning that the four-year-old shrine to the recreational vehicle and manufactured housing industries along the Indiana Toll Road is in financial peril.

You know, you can analyze the heck out of this thing and see how – with 20/20 hindsight – Elkhart’s industry shrine got into this $5 million financial scrape.

You can point fingers at the paid and volunteer leadership of the non-profit facility and whine about how they didn’t get things done right over the years as far as building a solid fiscal foundation, and you probably wouldn’t be all wrong. But that’s water over the dam.

You can blame the Go RVing Coalition and its leadership at both the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), all of whom are easy targets, located as they are in the secluded comfort of urban Washington, D.C. To a great extent, however, many of us view them as the solid donors who were probably well within their rights to have asked the Heritage Foundation’s leadership for a viable business plan upon which they might justify more donations.

And don’t forget the Ingram family, which stepped up in a major way to lend the facility money, back when it needed it most. Now they want their money back. Aren’t they, more than likely, within their rights?

The banks? Don’t even go there.

Then, of course, you can blame the recession, which has taken the legs out of more than a few stable entities – commercial and non-profit – over the past three years in this and other industries.

The point? The blame game, as usual, is getting us nowhere, just as it is failing to help the nation navigate through its current economic crisis. So, without delivering any impassioned pleas for the HOF, without infusing even more drama into this intriguing sequence of events that has so galvanized the industry, we will say this with a clear conscience now that a plan is on the table (See “RV/MH Heritage Foundation Releases Plan” on the Friday, April 8, RVBUSINESS.com Breaking News):

If we can generally agree that that plan holds water, if it will enable the HOF to generate decent conference revenues — if there’s a good enough shot at finding some degree of fiscal equilibrium for the HOF — then why wouldn’t the industry support it? Maybe, working together, without blaming anyone, we can find a way to save the Hall.

RVBusiness Publisher Sherman Goldenberg

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#1 Comment By Don Leslie On April 11, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

A few years ago we spent four great hours at the RV/MH Hall of Fame. It is a great facility with good exhibits, but it was developed when times were good. It definitely has a place in the RV world and I (a Canadian) would hate to see it wound up. In my opinion there is a very easy cure for the cash flow problems of the RV/MH Hall of Fame. We, the owners of RV’s, come to its rescue. How many of us are there? Surely 1,000,000+ So, we all chip in $10 and in no time there will be enough cash available to cover all obligations and to set aside money for future operations. If we do something of this nature it will be important to make sure the funds are use wisely. I would not hesitate to make a donation every few years. The important point is that no one will be asked to make a big donation. All RVers can afford to donate $10.

At the time I visited the RV/MH Hall of Fame I was a director and the treasurer of a Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum. I KNOW how tough it is to survive – and many are not surviving.

So, the RV/MH Hall of Fame has a donation facility on its web site and let us all get together and use it make sure it continues to exist.

Don Leslie

#2 Comment By Larry On April 13, 2011 @ 5:52 pm

We all need to come together and save the RV Hall of Fame.
Great idea from Don for RVers to make donations. What about selling lottery tickets? Is the Heritage Foundation non profit?