The NHL and the National Basketball Association have agreed to a collective bargaining agreement that includes $1.4 billion in funding for the National Memorial and Fandom Halls, but that hasn’t been enough to erase the memory of former hockey player Andrew Witten.
Former Witten, now a member of the U.S. men’s national team, died in February at age 53 after suffering a massive heart attack.
His death was the catalyst for the creation of the Witten Memorial and Fan Hall in 2018.
The two men met at a banquet at the National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, in 2015 and bonded over a shared passion for hockey.
They also shared their passions for baseball, baseball history and basketball.
The pair also shared a love of movies.
In March 2017, the Wittens and their son, Scott, who is now 19, decided to dedicate their new hall to their father, and were invited to a ceremony at the White House.
Witten died in January, but his son Scott was able to attend the event because of a personal invitation from the White Houses Chief of Staff, Andy Card.
Witten’s wife, Janice, and their three daughters, Janel, Jennifer and Anna, were also invited to attend.
As part of the agreement, the National Football League and the NHL Players Association are expected to step up to contribute $100 million to the Wites’ new facilities, which will house a total of 8,000 fans and 30,000 players.
“It’s a very sad time for us, but there are so many good things to come out of this,” said Mark Fuhrman, president and CEO of the National Baseball Hall of Famer’s estate.
“We’ve been blessed to work with the owners and the presidents of both leagues to create a wonderful facility for the great hockey fans who will enjoy it.
The NHL and NHLPA reached a new collective bargaining contract in 2018, but the NHL has yet to commit to providing funding for a new Hall of Hockey, which the Wittes have been lobbying for since the death of their father.
The Wittises’ son, Andrew, said he had been lobbying his father’s estate for years to secure the new facilities.”
I don’t think he’d have been able to give us the money to build it without the support of the NHLPA,” Andrew Witteman said.
The White House, meanwhile, said the Withers had no input on the new hall, which was designed by the architect for the new Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The new Witten Hall is scheduled to open in 2021, while the Witte Memorial will be finished in 2021.