Annapolis resident and president of the National Sailing Hall of Fame Gary Jobson says “we now have two good options for the Hall of Fame.”
Annapolis resident and president of the National Sailing Hall of Fame Gary Jobson says “we now have two good options for the Hall of Fame.” (Courtesy photo)

The National Sailing Hall of Fame has a decision to make: Stay in Annapolis and build on City Dock or leave for Newport, Rhode Island, and its historic Armory.

The Newport City Council voted 5-2 Wednesday night to divide the Armory, a waterfront property, which will allow the National Sailing Hall of Fame to operate on two floors. The hall of fame’s 25-member board of directors will vote in the next month on potentially moving to Newport.


“There’s 25 people on the board, and I can’t predict it,” said National Sailing Hall of Fame president Gary Jobson. “We now have two good options for the Hall of Fame.”

Under the proposal in Newport, the organization would purchase two floors of the town’s iconic Armory — about 13,000 square feet — on the waterfront for $1.685 million. Newport Mayor Harry Winthrop did not return calls for comment.

The city of Newport could take another step Wednesday toward bringing the Annapolis-based National Sailing Hall of Fame to Rhode Island.

The National Sailing Hall of Fame, founded in 2005, has been in talks for years to redevelop the state-owned property it currently leases on City Dock. There are plans to convert a historic 19th-century waterman’s home into an operations center and museum, but it will cost $9.5 million.

There is a possibility that the cost for the piece of land on City Dock could be far less. The National Sailing Hall of Fame has asked the state to surplus the property. If the state agrees, it would likely be less than the $9.5 million price tag.

Jobson previously told The Capital the home that once served as a headquarters for the Department of Natural Resources police has flooding issues, asbestos and structural problems.

“If that happens, then the question is how much would they charge for it, and would we want to acquire it,” he said.

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley called the Newport vote and the possibility the hall of fame could leave "devastating."

"I think that's a big blow," he said. "I'm not a quitter. We're doing what we can do to make an option here. I'm not happy."

He said some hall of fame board members have questions about the structural integrity of the Armory in Newport. Buckley has previously said that he sees the National Sailing Hall of Fame as part of his vision for the future of City Dock.

“My goal is not to have a 150-car parking lot at City Dock … the way we’re going to do that is different entities that can bring different resources,” he said.

As Newport has gone through its process, Annapolis has passed a resolution saying they support the Hall of Fame. But there wasn’t any funding attached to help keep the hall of fame in Annapolis.

In late July, a board member of the hall of fame told the Newport City Council that the organization would make about $1.5 million in capital improvements to the Armory. Jobson said he believes the organization could move to Newport in about 16 months, if board members do vote to move. In Annapolis, if the property was listed as a surplus, it would have to go through a public comment period.

“That whole process will take at least a year, probably longer,” Jobson said. ”Then you have to build the thing — the time frame in Newport would be shorter basically because the building exists. Although, I don’t know if that should be the determining factor.”

Jobson said his role is to present the information, and did not give an opinion to where the National Sailing Hall of Fame should go.


“We struggled in Annapolis because we’ve been at it since December of ‘05 on City Dock. So can we complete the job or not? Newport came out of the blue as far as I’m concerned. It came to us.”

Staff reporter Danielle Ohl contributed to this article.

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