Facts and History

Hall of Fame opened on Sept. 7, 1963

 


PHOTO GALLERY: 
Hall of Fame through the years (click on image to view)

Since opening in 1963, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has grown in both size and stature.  The building was expanded in 1971, 1978 and 1995, and completed major exhibit gallery renovations in 2003, 2008, and 2009.  Together, these improvements have transformed the original 19,000 square-foot Hall of Fame museum into an exciting internationally recognized institution and travel destination.  Currently, the Hall of Fame is undergoing the largest expansion and renovation in its history. The "Future 50" Expansion & Renovation Project has expanded the museum to 118,000 square feet. The two-year, $27 million project will be completed by the summer of 2013 after a major renovation to 38,000 square feet of museum space is finished.

Today, the Hall of Fame stands as a shining tribute to the men who have made professional football America’s most popular sport.



HOF_1963Location: 

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton, Ohio, in the northwest corner of the city, just off Interstate Highway 77. Highway exits for both northbound and southbound traffic are clearly marked on the freeway. Literally hundreds of other signs on lesser roads in the Canton and Stark County area guide the visitor directly to the Hall of Fame site. Canton is located approximately 40 minutes south of the Ohio Turnpike (I-80) and about one hour north of Interstate 70, another major east-west artery. I-77 connects directly to both of these major routes. Canton is also located on U.S. Highways 30 and 62.

Canton lies approximately 50 miles south of Cleveland, 100 miles west of Pittsburgh, 120 miles northeast of Columbus and around 225 miles from such centers as Detroit, Cincinnati, and Buffalo.

Why Canton for the Hall of Fame Site?

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton, Ohio, for three primary reasons; (1) the American Professional Football Association, later renamed the National Football League, was founded in Canton on September 17, 1920. (2) the Canton Bulldogs were an early-day pro football power, even before the days of the NFL. They were also the first two-time champion of the NFL in 1922 and 1923. The great Jim Thorpe, the first big-name athlete to play pro football, played his first pro football with the Bulldogs, starting in 1915. (3) Canton citizens early in the 1960's launched a determined and well-organized campaign to earn the site designation for their city.

Timeline

Summer, 1962
Spurred by the Canton Repository's editorial campaign, city leaders had won site designation from the National Football League and had launched a fund-raising campaign that would net $378,026. On August 11, ground-breaking ceremonies launched the original construction phase.

September 7, 1963
The sparkling and modern 19,000-square-foot, two-building Pro Football Hall of Fame was officially opened. Inducted that day was the Hall's charter class of 17 enshrinees.

Apr. 15, 1970
Ground-breaking rites were observed as the Hall launched an ambitious $620,000 expansion.

May 10, 1971
The Pro Football Hall of Fame became a three building, 34,000-square-foot complex featuring greatly increased space for the display areas, movie theater, gift shop and research library. Visitor attendance reached 200,000 annually for the first time in 1971.

Nov. 14, 1977
Ground was broken for the $1,200,000 second expansion.

November 20, 1978
The Hall became a four building, 50,500 square-foot complex with exciting new display areas, a twice-as-big theater and greatly-enlarged gift shop and research library facilities.

July, 1993
The Hall's third expansion, and $9.2 million project that would add a fifth building and increase the Hall's size by 64% to 82,307 square feet, is announced. The first phase of the project was launched in January, 1994.

July 7, 1994
Formal ground-breaking took place for the second-and largest-phase of the expansion.

October 1, 1995
The Hall's most ambitious expansion was completed. New displays and the long-awaited GameDay Stadium showing the "100-Yard Universe", an NFL Films production, were the final pieces in the expansion puzzle.

July 2003
Hall of Fame Gallery opened following a $1.677 million dollar renovation.

May 2008
A $3.6 million renovation project results in two new state-of-the-art galleries – Moments, Memories & Mementos and Pro Football Today.

July 2008
FieldTurf Recreational Field is added to the Hall of Fame campus.

August 2009
The Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery opens. The renovation cost $2.4 million.

Dec. 10, 2010
The largest expansion/renovation project in the Hall of Fame's history is announced. The "Future 50 Project" is a $27 million project that will be completed to coincide with the Pro Football Hall of Fame's 50th Anniversary in 2013.

Aug. 5, 2011
Ground-breaking ceremonies held for the “Future 50” Expansion & Renovation Project.

June 11, 2012
The museum’s new grand lobby opens.

Aug. 3, 2012

The official dedication took place for the new Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.

June 1, 2013
A ceremonial ribbon-cutting takes places to officially mark the opening of the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a two-year, two-phase expansion and renovation project.

 

Pertinent Hall of Fame Historical Background:
The Pro Football Hall of Fame concept, as far as Canton was concerned, first was placed before the public by the Canton Repository on December 6, 1959. That newspaper challenged its readers with the headline: "PRO FOOTBALL NEEDS A HALL OF FAME AND LOGICAL SITE IS HERE."

Canton civic groups quickly took up the challenge and, by January 25, 1961, William E. Umstattd of the Timken Company was in a position, as the selected representative of his city, to make a formal bid to the National Football League for acceptance of Canton as the site for a pro football hall of fame. Three months later, Canton was granted this official site approval.

Wooded parkland was donated from the city and a civic fund-raising campaign had, by February 8, 1962, acquired pledges totaling $378,026. Ground-breaking for the original construction was held on August 11, 1962, and on September 7, 1963, the building was first opened to the public.

The original two-building complex, containing 19,000 square feet of interior space, was almost doubled in size when a $620,000 expansion project was completed in May, 1971. The expanded three-building complex contained 34,000 square feet of interior space. A second expansion costing $1.2 million and adding a fourth building was complete in November, 1978, and increased the Hall's size to 51,000 square feet. A third expansion project, a $9.2 million program that increased the Hall's size to approximately 83,000 square feet, was completed in October, 1995.

Dick McCann, long-time general manager of the Washington Redskins, was named the Hall's first director on April 4, 1962. Mr. McCann died in November, 1967, and in April 1968, Dick Gallagher, a long-time pro football coach, scout, and general manager, was named the new director. He served until his retirement on December 31, 1975. In February, 1979, Pete Elliott, an assistant coach of the St. Louis Cardinals who had had an extensive college playing and coaching career, was named the Hall's third director. Elliott retired on October 31, 1996. John Bankert, a long-time vice-president of the Hall of Fame, became the museum’s fourth director on November 1, 1996 and was named President in 2003. He served in that role through his retirement on December 31, 2005.

Steve Perry became the Pro Football Hall of Fame's fifth President/Executive Director on April 24, 2006 and served through his retirement in 2014. He has had an extensive career in management of large private sector and public sector organizations. Most recently, he served in the Federal government as the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in Washington, D.C. Perry was a former member of the Hall of Fame's Board of Directors (1993-2001) and has been an active volunteer in numerous professional and community organizations.

David Baker was named President/Executive Director on January 6, 2014. Baker served as the Commissioner of the Arena Football League for 12 years from 1996 to 2008. The 6’9” Baker was a power forward and captain of the basketball team at the University of California at Irvine from 1971-75. He also played two seasons of professional basketball in Europe before returning to obtain a Juris Doctorate degree from Pepperdine University School of Law where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review. As an attorney in California, Baker specialized in corporate mergers, acquisitions and real estate law. From 1984-88 he served as a City Councilman and Mayor of Irvine, California. For four years before taking his position at the Hall of Fame, he worked as a Partner in Union Village, LLC, the largest healthcare project in the United States creating thousands of jobs in Henderson, Nevada as the first Integrated Health Village in the world.

The Hall of Fame Today

Mission Statement

Honor the Heroes of the Game
Preserve its History
Promote its Values
Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Today Reaches Outside of Canton

Today, the Hall of Fame is now available outside of Canton through a variety of initiatives from traveling exhibits, artifacts on loan, youth and educational outreach programs, and a dynamic website. In its day-to-day operation, the Pro Football Hall of Fame works very closely with all facets of the pro football family - the National Football League, the 32 NFL clubs, and other entities. The cooperative efforts of all of these organizations have contributed greatly to the overall success of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In turn, the Hall strives to serve as the best possible historical showplace and repository for the sport of pro football. The Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational institution that focuses on education, promoting, preserving, and honoring the great individuals and moments that have shaped the sport’s history.

Hours of Operation

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is open every day of the year except for Christmas. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, it is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Plan a visit today. The hours for the remainder of the year are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission rates/hours

Inside the Hall

The Hall represents its sport in a great many colorful and entertaining ways with a multitude of interactive experiences.

Perhaps the most emotional stop during a tour of the museum is the Hall of Fame Gallery which houses the bronze bust of each enshrinee. Completion of the renovated gallery occurred in 2003 and now offers visitors the opportunity to learn about each member of the Hall through touch screen kiosks that include bios, photos, and video on the inductees.

The Pro Football Adventure Room examines the many other pro leagues that have challenged the NFL since its founding in 1920.

The Moments, Memories & Mementos Gallery focuses on the achievements made by the members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. High-tech video, audio, and lighting help bring the treasured artifacts to life in dynamic fashion. The Pro Football Today Gallery examines contemporary themes in the NFL. This area is filled with mementos from recent history-making performances.

The Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery recaps every Super Bowl played to date. Interactive kiosks and rare artifacts bring the Super Bowl to life. The newest gallery in the Hall of Fame is also home to the Super Bowl Theater, an incredible presentation of a NFL Films production.

As visitors leave the exhibit level of the Hall and return to the ground floor, they enter into an interactive area that includes a Teletrivia game, Call-the-Play-Theater, an all-new Madden EA Sports video game display and other exhibits such as a display devoted to officiating.

Hall of Fame Store

The Hall of Fame’s museum store offers a wide variety of merchandise that includes special Hall of Fame products in addition to merchandise for all 32 NFL teams. The Hall’s store is also available online. Shop now>>>

Archives 

The brand new Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center, a state-of-the-art facility, opened in August 2012. The archives are home to the world's largest collection of document related to professional football. The  Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center is open to the public by appointment only.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s enshrinement celebration is the largest of its kind. Each summer, the community celebrates the enshrinement and the annual NFL preseason game with a two and a half week festival. The local Chamber of Commerce Festival Office stages 24 public events ranging from balloon races, ribs burnoff, to the Enshrinees Dinner where each member of the new class receives his gold Hall of Fame jacket.

The central focus of the entire Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival celebration is the Enshrinement Ceremony where each newly elected football legend takes center stage and shares with the audience his innermost emotions and career experiences in a heartfelt and emotional acceptance speech. Thousands attend and millions more watch and listen as the nationally televised event unfolds. The annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony is not only a moving and inspirational salute to the game’s all-time great players, coaches and contributors; it is also one of the most spectacular events in all of sports.

Visit our Enshrinement Festival Section>>>

Game - Each NFL season kicks with the annual Hall of Fame Game played in Canton's Fawcett Stadium.


Other Related Topics about the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Selection Process - a 46-member Board of Selectors, a committee largely made up of sports writers, is responsible for electing new members to the Hall of Fame each year. | Details about the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Selection Process

Calendar of Special Events

The Hall of Fame holds a variety of special events in Canton and around the country. Here is the latest calendar>>>



Attendance at the Pro Football Hall of Fame:

More than 10 million fans have visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame since its opening in September, 1963. The attendance pace, slow at first, quickened dramatically in the early 1970s. Daily checks of the guest register show that, in a year's time, visitors come from every state in the United States and up to 60 to 70 foreign nations. Year-by-year attendance is as follows:

1963 - 22,195 (four mo.)
1964 - 63,036
1965 - 60,026
1966 - 56,468
1967 - 52,989
1968 - 58,833
1969 - 80,881
1970 - 122,738
1971 - 220,881
1972 - 247,203
1973 - 330,029
1974 - 261,567
1975 - 235,404
1976 - 247,620
1977 - 246,912
1978 - 217,455
1979 - 182,881
1980 - 211,977
1981 - 229,087
1982 - 197,682
1983 - 185,080
1984 - 168,519
1985 - 164,824
1986 - 179,178
1987 - 193,432
1988 - 212,541
1989 - 203,845
1990 - 207,948
1991 - 209,315
1992 - 189,033
1993 - 195,392
1994 - 204,137
1995 - 227,202
1996 - 220,480
1997 - 198,451
1998 - 202,682
1999 - 195,747
2000 - 185,799
2001 - 165,337
2002 - 180,004
2003 - 177,539
2004 - 181,153
2005 - 183,399
2006 - 194,508
2007 - 201,148
2008 - 196,351
2009 - 196,205
2010 - 191,943
2011 - 169,933
2012 - 186,429

2013 - 208,191