CANTON, Ohio — Construction of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village is in full swing in Canton. But even as work goes on, it appears the village's naming sponsor, Johnson Controls, wants out of the deal.
According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Johnson Controls sent two notices of termination to HOF Village Newco LLC, a subsidiary of the Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company, last week. One called for the end of the technology agreement between the two sides, while the other sought to end the sponsorship and naming rights agreement.
"Our hope is that we can resolve the dispute with Johnson Controls and continue to move forward," Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Company CEO Michael Crawford told 3News' Brandon Simmons. "But if not, we’ll resolve it in a different way and move forward with another service provider and another equipment provider to build the things that we need to do."
In the documents filed by Johnson Controls to the SEC, the company accuses the Hall of Fame Village of being in breach of its payment obligations and says the resort owes them $4.75 million. But Crawford says the Hall of Fame Village has held up their end of the deal, despite delays in construction caused by the pandemic.
"From our perspective we have not had a breach. In fact, we’ve given them that notice as of last Friday. And we have continued to buy their product and pay for their service, which is how the village is continuing to be constructed," Crawford adds.
Despite the dispute between the two sides, construction crews continue to work on the $900 million project that is now in Phase II. Among the highlights of Phase II are the Center for Performance, Play-Action Plaza, and Fan Engagement Zone on pace to open this summer.
Crawford says Johnson Controls is one of more than 30 sponsors of the Hall of Fame Village, but they have nothing to do with the overall funding of the project.
"They’re not an investor, they’re not a lender, the construction that’s going on is not predicated on their sponsorship," Crawford adds. You can watch our full interview with him below.
So what happens next? Crawford says the two sides will consult with a mediator to help resolve the dispute. If that doesn't work, the contract then requires an arbitrator to sort things out.
One thing is clear: The dispute is not affecting construction one bit.