Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium
The annual enshrinement ceremony and the Hall of Fame Game is played in Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium, located directly across the street from the Hall of Fame.
Click here for a diagram of Fawcett Stadium
John A. Fawcett was a former member of the Canton Board of Education and a well-known athlete. He died of pneumonia at the age of 44, a few years before the stadium was built.
In the Beginning
The stadium was built from 1937-1939 at an estimated cost of $500,000. The federal government in the form of man power, the WPA, paid for $400,000 while a school board bond issue paid for the materials. The stadium originally seated 15,000 and was the largest high school stadium in the country at that time.
Fawcett Stadium underwent a major renovation and a name change in 1997. Backed by the Canton community, $4.3 million worth of improvements were completed on the stadium. Some of the major improvements included state-of-the-art Astroturf with a player friendly rubber base, new locker room facilities, new scoreboard with graphics display screen, new lighting, new sound system, new electrical services, structural repairs, vinyl caps for all wooden seats, and a renovated press box. The newly renovated stadium was also renamed to include the words Pro Football Hall of Fame Field.
The stadium had a new playing surface, FieldTurf, installed in 2004.
When the Hall of Fame game went prime time in 1998, engineers told ABC Sports, which broadcasts the game, that the stadium needed better lighting for a night game. The NFL responded by paying $365,000 for the addition of five light poles to bring the total to nine.
A brand new state-of-the-art press box was added in 2009. The $3.4 million project was funded by support from local foundations, local businesses, national businesses; and state, county, and city grants.
Home to Two Colleges and Two High Schools
A total of four local teams play their home games at Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium. They include NCAA Division II rivals Malone University and Walsh University as well as two high schools (McKinley and Timken).
The Pro Football Hall of Fame's enshrinement ceremony is one of the great events in sports. In 2002, the annual enshrinement was moved from the Hall's front steps back to Fawcett Stadium, where it had been held from 1963 to 1965. A grand stage is erected to accommodate the many returning Hall of Fame members who participate in the annual induction.
Hall of Fame Game
The Hall of Fame Game series began in 1962, one year before the museum opened. A National Football League preseason game has been played at Fawcett Stadium each year except two since that inaugural game. No game was played in 1966 as the preseason schedule was not set in time to include Canton for a neutral site game. The game was canceled in 2011 due to a lockout.
Beginning in 1971, following the AFL-NFL merger, an AFC vs. NFC format was adopted for the Hall of Fame series. Preset schedules were created that called for each team to make a visit to Canton over 14- and 15-year periods through 1994. In 1995, the NFL selected the Hall of Fame Game to showcase the debut of the league's newest expansion teams - the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars. Since that time, the NFL designates the teams for the Hall of Fame Game on a season-by-season basis. The game normally includes teams with significant milestones (such as the return of the Cleveland Browns in 1999 and the Houston Texans inaugural game in 2002) or a connection to the Hall's most recent class.
In 2006, the Hall of Fame Game returned to Sunday. The Hall of Fame games were played on Sunday afternoons from 1963 to 1965. The inaugural game and those played from 1967 through 1997 were played on Saturday afternoons. Then, in 1998, the Hall of Fame game was switched to primetime with kickoff moved to Saturday evening. One year later, the game moved to Monday night.
The Hall of Fame Game was televised nationally by ABC from 1971-2005. In 2006, NBC broadcast the game followed by the NFL Network in 2007. The game returned to NBC in 2008. The game was broadcast by NFL Network in 2012.