Basketball Hall of Fame Trying to Dig Out of Debt

Officials at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame say its finances have stabilized enough to get it to the busy summer months, though it still owes millions of dollars.

John Doleva, the hall’s president and chief executive officer, says the situation has improved significantly since Feb. 18, when his letter to trustees outlined a crisis that could have forced the facility to sell some of its memorabilia. In a worst-case scenario, it might also have had to consider selling the hall of fame itself or declaring bankruptcy.

Doleva said they want to craft a long-term plan for stability without a day-to-day countdown over survival, though broader issues of raising money and eliminating debt still need immediate attention. The debt, estimated between $4 million and $5 million, includes a $3.5 million loan established in 2008 with a seven-year term, he said.

Doleva said he was obliged in his February letter to describe all possible options to the trustees, though Doleva said bankruptcy was “not a realistic option.”

The sale of memorabilia to pay off debt might have been as controversial as bankruptcy. Appraised in 2004 at $10 million, the hall’s artifacts have been largely donated by basketball stars, coaches and families.

The museum is preparing to mark its 50th year, and the much-anticipated enshrinement class of 2009 which will include Michael Jordan.

(Compiled from Associated Press report)

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