Friday, April 29, 2016

Union Members Collaborate to Help Build Canton's Future

East Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades

More than 300 attended the Draft Day Experience
Thursday, April 28, will go down as another milestone date for the building trades unions in East Central Ohio. The inaugural Draft Day Experience took place in Downtown Canton and exceeded all expectations, with more than 300 football fans and Canton enthusiasts packing the ballroom at the McKinley Grand Hotel to watch the first round of the NFL Draft and support the plans for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village.

The event was the brainchild of the East Central Ohio Building & Construction Trades Council and particularly our president, Dave Kirven, who also serves as Business Manager for Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 94 in Canton. Dave and his colleagues with the Stark Carroll Oil & Gas Partnership -- including Brodie Haer, Doug Lane, Mike Boyd, Mike Furcolow and Tom Delamater -- began working on the idea in January and put the event together in three months' time. Deb Oberlin of the Holiday Inn in Canton was instrumental in bringing NFL alumni to the event and helped with other planning and logistics. It was truly a team effort.

Anthony Griggs

Dave Kirven (L) visits with

Anthony Griggs, who played for
the Browns and Eagles
Just as important was the involvement and support of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Senior VP Dave Motts met with our committee in early February to offer the Hall's support and discuss how they could be involved. Pete Fierle, Jim Macris, Brian Proud and many others helped open doors and provide memorabilia, publicity and displays to top off the evening and give it the prestige that only the Hall of Fame can offer.

The goal of the event was two-fold: One, to raise funds in support of the Legends Landing, an assisted living residence planned as part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village; and two, to position Canton to host the actual NFL Draft in the future. 

Support for the Legends Landing and the Village project is important, said Kirven, because the Hall of Fame and the project developers have signed a project labor agreement that will guarantee union participation in the construction of the facility.

East Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades

Fans bid on NFL memorabilia and other
items during our silent and live auctions
A true testament to the collaborative nature of the draft event came from an editorial in the Canton Repository on April 27. Titled "NFL Draft dream still alive," the editorial praised the groups for their work, not only on the Draft Day Experience, but also on the goal of bringing the Draft to Canton.

"These are the types of community partnerships that must be built now if Canton is going to win over the NFL's site selection committee," the editorial stated, before adding: "There's no better way for the NFL to celebrate its 100th season (2019) or its centennial (2020) than by holding its draft in the birthplace of the league and the home of the game's immortals."

We agree, and are grateful to our event sponsors, plus the more than 300 guests -- including a strong showing of union members -- who attended the first of what will be an annual event to celebrate the NFL Draft and our member unions' involvement in the future growth of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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