Wrestling With Hall Of Fame Idea

Albany Times-Union – August 3, 2001
By Marv Cermak

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — A proposal presented a year ago to establish a professional wrestling hall of fame and museum in the city finally appears to be out of the starting gate.

The Metroplex Development Authority has hired a consultant for $2,500 to assess the viability of the concept along with detailing steps needed to launch the project.

“Proponents have made a request for funding the acquisition of a building, but the venture lacks a real market analysis,” said John Manning, Metroplex chairman. “Is there a market for such an undertaking? We must determine this because we don’t want to fund something that will fail.”

Tony Vellano, a Rotterdam resident, has been the prime mover for the nonprofit undertaking that would recognize the all-time world wrestling greats with annual hall of fame induction ceremonies and enshrinement similar to those accorded to athletes in other sports.

“That’s wonderful news,” Vellano said Thursday when he was told of the Metroplex move. “A lot of people have been waiting for this to happen because personally I believe the venue would be an instant success.”

Vellano said a home for the shrine, which would house bronze plaques of the inductees and artifacts associated with wrestling, is a must. If a building can be secured soon, he envisions staging the first induction ceremony in the spring of 2002.

“The project would become valid once we have a home,” Vellano said. “Build a building and they will come is an old expression. The attraction will bring visitors from all over the nation and even the world.”

He said because pro wrestling is a booming sport, the project would be a draw that will yield “trickle-down” economic benefits for area motels, restaurants and other businesses.

He said near-capacity crowds for wrestling cards at the Pepsi Arena in Albany attest to the local appeal of the sport.

Manning said that because there are several other sports’ halls of fame in New York, adding Schenectady to the list of attractions is a natural. Other hall of fame installations within easy driving distance of Schenectady include Saratoga Springs, horse racing; Cooperstown, baseball; Canastota, boxing; Oneonta, soccer; and Goshen, harness racing.

“There are athletic shrines within 100 miles of here, but none are located in the Capital Region,” Vellano said.

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