For Pete's Sake

By: Pete Fierle

Pete Fierle, Manager - Digital Media/Communications
Pete's familiarity with the game's history is a result of spending two decades surrounded by the world's largest collection of pro football information. His many duties include overseeing the Hall's website as well as the day-to-day operation of the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.

Is it a football?

Jun 30, 2011

A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday.

We’re knee deep in planning for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s largest ever expansion & renovation titled The Future 50 Project. The name came from the fact that this $27 million project will be completed in 2013 as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary and sets us on our course for the next 50 years. We’re having a ground-breaking ceremony during Hall of Fame weekend. I recommend that you mark your calendars for this event as a huge group of Hall of Famers will be on hand for the special occasion.

Construction starts shortly thereafter. The Future 50 Project marks the fourth major expansion to the museum since it opened as a 19,000 square-foot building on September 17, 1963. Famous sportscaster Chris Schenkel gave an inside glimpse to football fans in the days after we opened.

Click on image above to play video.

Since that time, we added on in 1971, 1978, and 1995. When the Future 50 Project is completed, the Hall of Fame will be 117,000 square feet of football paradise! If you haven’t seen the artist’s rendering of what we’ll look like in 2013, take a look.

Perhaps the most noticeable change is that our entrance will no longer be under “the dome.” We’ll be moving our entrance to the middle of the building. But, the dome will stay and hover over brand new exhibit space (our long and winding ramp will also be gone!).

No disrespect to our fellow sports heritage institutions but I can’t think of a more iconic building than ours in Canton, Ohio when it comes to sports halls of fame. So many fans identify with that familiar dome. If you’re under the age of 10, you think it’s a giant orange juice squeezer! Despite that clip above and Chris Schenkel’s implication that the dome is suggestive of a football, is it really a football? Many fans ask us.

Who better to answer that burning question than one of the men who created it? Two young Canton architects, Bob Forsythe and Jay Morgan Cox, designed the building in the early 1960s. Forsysthe (side note: he grew up in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio and counted Hall of Fame tackle/placekicker Lou Groza as one his friends), stopped by for a visit last week. I hadn’t seen Bob in many, many years as he has retired to Florida.

Bob, who is just shy of his 87th birthday, took me up on my offer to sit down and chat about the Hall of Fame. He was quite complimentary about The Future 50 plans. In my mind it was somewhat surprising that he wasn’t the least bit sensitive about us changing the “face” of the building. In fact, he sent kudos to the design team and how everything is being adapted for the future growth of the Hall.

Bob and I chatted for a bit. Then, for posterity sake, I had to pose the question to him. Was the dome really supposed to be a football? Here’s the answer in Bob’s own words.

Give it a listen!