Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve Its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence Everywhere
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Since being named the President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in January of 2014, David Baker’s leadership has transformed the Hall of Fame.
His physical stature – 6’9” and nearly 400 pounds – is overshadowed by his large vision for the Hall. He has embarked on an endeavor that has dramatically expanded the Hall of Fame’s brand by focusing on the organization’s powerful Mission to “Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE.”
Baker came to Canton with a reputation as an experienced and passionate leader in business, politics and sports. He is dedicated to inspiring exponential growth in individuals and organizations of excellence that seek to make a difference in their communities and the world. He possesses a long record of success as a catalyst for growth.
Under his guidance and leadership, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has greatly expanded programming across the country; experienced increased television ratings; received broader exposure of the Hall’s Mission, Values and Vision; and recorded the greatest financial results in the organization’s 55-year history. In his four years at the Hall, the organization’s net assets more than doubled.
In 2018, the Pro Football Hall of Fame was voted the Best Attraction for Sports Fans in the USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest.
Baker is also leading Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village, a nearly $899 million mixed-use project that will result in the first-ever sports and entertainment “smart city.” Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village will transform the Hall’s campus into “Football Heaven” for all who love the Game. The dynamic project that will be completed to coincide with the NFL’s Centennial Celebration in 2020. Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village is comprised of ten main components: the Pro Football Hall of Fame Museum; Black College Football Hall of Fame; Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium; Hall of Fame Hotel, a Four-Star Hotel & Conference Center; a Player Care Center that includes Legends Landing Senior Living Community; a National Youth Football & Sports Complex; The Center for EXCELLENCE (Coaches University; an Academy of Corporate Excellence; the Institute for Officiating and the Center for Athletic Performance and Safety); a Performance Center with an indoor 100-yard field and convention space, Hall of Fame Promenade (restaurants and support retail that will feature the “World’s Greatest Sports Bar”); and the Hall of Fame Experience (indoor amusement park and a football-themed indoor water park).
Baker's accomplishment were recognized when he was bestowed the prestigious March of Dimes Sports Leadership Award for 2017. He joined a long list of distinguished winners of the Sports Leadership Award that includes NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, NBA Commissioner David Stern, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
Baker is an attorney by trade who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Criticism from the University of California at Irvine and his Juris Doctorate from the Pepperdine School of Law during which time he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Pepperdine Law Review.
He played professional basketball in Switzerland and worldwide with a Christian basketball team that beat the best in the world. He was elected Mayor and Councilman of Irvine, Calif., the country’s first master-planned city and served for 12 years as the Commissioner of the Arena Football League.
Fueled by his establishment of the first-ever Mission Statement and Fan Bill of Rights in sports, the Arena Football League brand grew dramatically as the most fan-friendly league in the world. Team values escalated from $175,000 to $32 million due, at least in part, to Baker’s ability to negotiate television contracts and his tireless work to establish partnerships with the NFL and major sponsors.
From 2009 to 2014, he served as the Managing Partner for Union Village, the first integrated health village in the world that is located in Henderson, Nevada. The $1.3 billion mixed-use project will provide 17,000 jobs in the community created for 1,500 seniors.
Baker is the father of two boys – Ben who is the Director of Broadcasting at NASCAR and Sam who played left tackle for the Atlanta Falcons and currently serves as a coach for Mission Viejo High School football team. David and his wife Colleen also have a daughter Leyla and a son, Michael; and are the proud grandparents of eight beautiful grandchildren.
With a focus on the Hall of Fame’s five core values – commitment, integrity, courage, respect and excellence – Baker leads by example at the “The Most Inspiring Place on Earth!”
“(Baker’s) imagination is every bit as expansive as his enormous 6-foot-9 frame.” – Crain’s Cleveland Business
“Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village is going to be one of the most spectacular things that I’ve ever seen, and that is not an overstatement. It’s really extraordinary that David came in with a vision of creating this village and it’s actually becoming a reality.” – National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell
“Canton has the opportunity to do something like we did with our stadium in Dallas. Our sport has no peer like David Baker when it comes to our game and what these great men and women have done for the fundamentals. Hall of Famers embody a lot of what we want our young people to be. David Baker has shown not only an elegant way of presenting it, but he has meat on the bone when it comes to getting it done.” – Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys Owner/President/General Manager & Hall of Fame member
“If my dad owned an Arby’s, he’d want to make it the most extravagant Arby’s you’ve ever seen — times 10.” – David Baker’s son Sam Baker, former tackle for the Atlanta Falcons and Southern California
"David has been absolutely incredible in terms of what he's brought to the Hall of Fame. He understands his role, and he champions our causes." – Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis
“Baker isn't about bluster and grandiose dreams that never come to fruition. He draws up a blueprint and follows through.” – Los Angeles Times
"Dave has done a tremendous job. It's a 180-degree turn from the way the place used to be. He's trying to make it better and grow it all the time. Before, it was what it was, and it stayed that way. Now, he's constantly looking for ways to make people want to go there, whether you're a player or a fan." – Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana
“His enthusiasm — and Baker is a very enthusiastic guy — peaks when he discusses The Center of Excellence, the Player Care Center and the Hall of Fame Experience.” – Associated Press story by Barry Wilner titled, “Pro Football Hall of Fame president envisions football ‘Disney World’ in Canton”
Hall of Fame president envisions football 'Disney World' (Associated Press, Aug. 6, 2017)
David Baker's big Hall of Fame project to be completed in 2020 (NFL.com, Aug. 4, 2017)
David Baker runs the Pro Football Hall of Fame his way (NFL.com, Aug. 2, 2017)
David Baker has big plans for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and many already are on display (Los Angeles Times, Aug. 1, 2017)
Talking Football with David Baker, Who Delivers the Hardest Knock in the NFL (Sports Illustrated, July 28, 2017)