These are busy days for John Stephenson, a long-time friend of Hartman Simons and the president and CEO of Atlanta Hall Management Inc., which operates the new College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta. The highly anticipated museum will hold its grand opening on Saturday.

Stephenson took a few minutes out of his hectic schedule to chat with us about the Hall, its impact on the city … and to offer a prediction on Hartman Simons attorney Will Lovell’s beloved Ohio State Buckeyes.

Image002What’s your favorite part of the Hall of Fame?

Stephenson: My favorite part is the fact that, if you register your “all-access pass” (your ticket) with us as a fan of a certain school, your entire visit is personalized and tailored to your school. It’s pretty amazing.

Along with the new Civil Rights Museum, which is located next door, how do you expect the College Football Hall of Fame to change downtown Atlanta?

Stephenson: This attraction is an important next step in the progression of the Centennial Olympic Park district. Starting with building the Park, then the Aquarium and all the other attractions and now the Hall of Fame and the Civil Rights Museum, and in a few years the new Falcons’ stadium — this area is really a tourism/sports/business travel destination that could be put up against any in the country.

What are some upcoming events folks should know about at the Hall of Fame?

Stephenson: This Saturday, Aug. 23, our free grand-opening tailgate party — featuring kids’ activities, music, mascots, cheerleaders and remarks from Mayor Reed — starts at 9 a.m., and then the doors will open to the public for the first time at 10 a.m. Tickets for the Hall of Fame can be purchased at www.cfbhall.com/tickets.

Also, ESPN’s “College Football Live” with Lou Holtz and Mark May will be broadcasting live all day from the 45-yard-long indoor field on Thursday, Aug. 28, before the Boise/Ole Miss game. It will be a good day to do some “non-billable” work downtown as you investigate the new Hall and see a live TV production at the same time.

On Oct. 6, we’ll have our Building Dedication Gala and Enshrinement Ceremony. Stay tuned for tickets on sale.

Word around the water cooler at Hartman Simons these days is that you were once an outstanding lineman for the Lovett Lions. Putting your football knowledge and experience to the test, where do you think your beloved Georgia Bulldogs will end up at the end of the season and how will Will Lovell’s beloved Ohio State Buckeyes fare?

Stephenson: As compared to Will Lovell [an associate at Hartman Simons], anyone would appear to be a gridiron great. This year, the Dawgs will finish in the top 10, and the Buckeyes … will not.