More Hall of Fame History Page

01/01/2005

Facts and History

Location:
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 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, the direct forerunner of 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 a 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.

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.

Operation of the Hall of Fame:
The Pro Football Hall of Fame operates as an independent, non-profit organization. Its 24-member Board of Trustees include 17 members from the Canton region. Other directors include Lamar Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs, K.S. (Bud) Adams Jr. of the Tennessee Titans, Pat Bowlen of the Denver Broncos, Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Wellington Mara of the New York Giants, Wayne Weaver of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

In its day-to-day operation, the Pro Football Hall of Fame works very closely with all facets of the pro football family - the Commissioner's Office, the 32 NFL clubs, NFL Films, and NFL Properties. 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 Component Parts of the Hall of Fame:
Of the most obvious nature, the Pro Football Hall of Fame serves as a hallowed honoring spot for the greats of the pro football world and two large galleries are devoted to the display of the niches of the enshrinees of the Hall.

The Hall also represents its sport in a great many other colorful and entertaining ways. With the completion of the $9.2 million expansion in 1995, all eyes are now turned on the GameDay Stadium, where pro football action is presented in a turntable theater featuring a 20’x42’ Cinemascope screen. The NFL Films Cinemascope presentation is a first in sports.

A seven-foot bronze statue of Jim Thorpe greets visitors as they enter the Hall. The visitor then ascends a gently-sloping ramp to the first exhibition rotunda, where a chronological accounting of the first century of pro football unfolds. The emphasis is heavy on unusual mementos in this area. Immediately after the rotunda tour, the visitor views the Pro Football Today display, where the histories of each of the 32 NFL teams are presented in colorful, dramatic form.

The Hall's twin enshrinement galleries are located on the outer perimeters of the second and third buildings. There each of the Hall's members is honored with a bronze bust, an action mural and a brief biography. In both buildings, eye-catching displays occupy interior rooms surrounded by the enshrinement galleries.

The Pro Football Adventure Room occupies the center of the third building. Here the stories of all of the other leagues, including the American Football League of the 1960s, that have challenged the NFL are told in graphic detail. Constantly changing momentoes of modern-day record holders are displayed in this area as well.

The expanded Enshrinee Mementoes Room dominates the fourth building and the Super Bowl exhibition fills the upper level of the new fifth building near the ramp leading to the GameDay Stadium entrance.

As fans leave the GameDay Stadium, they go to the ground level of the fifth building where a variety of exhibits are displayed, including the Hall’s interactive displays such as Hall of Fame Teletrivia and QB-1 Call-the-Play-Theater. Tailgaiting snack bar is also located in this area offering stadium-style food and refreshments.

Three other elements are major pluses at the Hall. There is still another theater to entertain the visitor. It is the NFL Films Theater, where a different NFL action film is shown every hour. A few feet down the hall is the greatly-expanded museum store, always a popular stop for every Hall of Fame visitor. The Archives & Information Center, open to the public by appointment only, is located on the lower level of the fifth building.

Pertinent Basic Data:
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. The hours for the remainder of the year are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $12.00 for adults, $6.00 for children under 14. Senior citizens over 62 are admitted for $8.00. There is a family rate (parents and all dependent children) of $30.00. Substantial reductions are offered for groups. Information on group rates and any other matters may be obtained by phoning (330) 456-8207 or by writing to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Method of Selection of Enshrinees:
Election of new members to the Pro Football Hall of Fame is solely the responsibility of the 39-member Board of Selectors, a committee largely made up of sports writers. Each NFL city has one representative with two from New York City, because of its two teams. There also is a representative of the Pro Football Writers Association, and six are at-large representatives.

The Selection Committee meets each year on the day before the Super Bowl to elect a new class of enshrinees. To be elected, a nominee must obtain 80 percent of the vote of those selectors in attendance. Present rules call for the election of between four and seven new enshrinees each year. Any fan may nominate any pro football contributor or player simply by writing to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The only limitation is that a player must have been retired at least five years and a coach must be retired. Other contributors (owners, administrative personnel, etc.) may be nominated and elected while they are still active.

The Enshrinement of New Members

Football's Greatest Weekend:
The highlight of every year at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is the annual Football's Greatest Weekend celebration that is usually scheduled in late July or early August. A huge civic festival precedes the two major events of the celebration: (1) the enshrinement of new members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and (2) the annual AFC-NFC Hall of Fame pre-season football game.

In addition to the enshrinement and the game, which is handled by the Hall's staff and a select committee of volunteers, many other festival events are organized and conducted by the Greater Canton Chamber of Commerce. Numerous volunteer citizens' committees serve as integral parts of the overall organization.

2003 Enshrinement Celebration schedule

Typical attendance during a Festival weekend will find more than 3,500 at each of the dinner and luncheon, an estimated 200,000 viewers at the parade, up to 15,000 at the enshrinement and a 24,000-plus crowd, including standing room, at the game. In addition, up to 5,000 out-of-town visitors will have visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time. Millions of others will view the enshrinement live on ESPN2 and the game on ABC-TV, which has featured this activity on its Wide World of Sports series since 1971.

The Annual AFC-NFC Hall of Fame Game:
The annual Hall of Fame game is played at Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium, a Canton city high school stadium which seats 22,375 and can accommodate up to 1,500 in standing room. It is located directly across the street from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The first game of the series was played in 1962, a year before the Hall was opened. Except for 1966, there has been a Hall of Fame game in Canton every year since.

So that the press corps covering the annual Hall of Fame game would have satisfactory working conditions, the Hall in 1974 constructed a $90,000 press box. The two-deck facility contains working space for 73 writers on the lower level. The upper level contains a large television broadcast booth, three radio broadcast booths and three VIP booths. This fully-carpeted and modern facility is topped off by an electrically-equipped and spacious photo deck on the roof. The stadium and locker room received major overhauls in 1997 that included the installation of an artificial turf surface.

Hall of Fame Games Played to Date:

1962 - New York Giants 21, St. Louis Cardinals 21 (tie)
1963 - Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Cleveland Browns 7
1964 - Baltimore Colts 48, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
1965 - Washington Redskins 20, Detroit Lions 3
1966 - No game
1967 - Philadelphia Eagles 28, Cleveland Browns 13
1968 - Chicago Bears 30, Dallas Cowboys 24
1969 - Green Bay Packers 38, Atlanta Falcons 24
1970 - New Orleans Saints 14, Minnesota Vikings 13
1971 - Los Angeles Rams (NFC) 17, Houston Oilers (AFC) 6
1972 - Kansas City Chiefs (AFC) 23, New York Giants (NFC) 17
1973 - San Francisco 49ers (NFC)20, New England Patriots (AFC)7
1974 - St. Louis Cardinals (NFC) 21, Buffalo Bills (AFC) 13
1975 - Washington Redskins (NFC) 17, Cincinnati Bengals (AFC) 9
1976 - Denver Broncos (AFC) 10, Detroit Lions (NFC)7
1977 - Chicago Bears (NFC) 20, New York Jets (AFC) 6
1978 - Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 17, Miami Dolphins (AFC) 3
1979 - Oakland Raiders (AFC) 20, Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 13
1980 - San Diego Chargers (AFC) 0, Green Bay Packers (NFC)0 (tie)
1981 - Cleveland Browns (AFC) 24, Atlanta Falcons (NFC) 10
1982 - Minnesota Vikings (NFC) 30, Baltimore Colts (AFC) 14
1983 - Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 27, New Orleans Saints (NFC) 14
1984 - Seattle Seahawks (AFC) 38, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC) 0
1985 - New York Giants (NFC) 21, Houston Oilers (AFC) 20
1986 - New England Patriots (AFC) 21, St. Louis Cardinals (NFC) 16
1987 - San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 20, Kansas City Chiefs (AFC) 7
1988 - Cincinnati Bengals (AFC) 14, Los Angeles Rams (NFC) 7
1989 - Washington Redskins (NFC) 31, Buffalo Bills (AFC) 6
1990 - Chicago Bears (NFC) 13, Cleveland Browns (AFC) 0
1991 - Detroit Lions (NFC) 14, Denver Broncos (AFC) 3
1992 - New York Jets (AFC) 41, Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 14
1993 - Los Angles Raiders (AFC) 19, Green Bay Packers (NFC) 3
1994 - Atlanta Falcons (NFC) 21, San Diego Chargers (AFC) 17
1995 - Carolina Panthers (NFC) 20, Jacksonville Jaguars (AFC) 14
1996 - Indianapolis Colts (AFC) 10, New Orleans Saints (NFC) 3
1997 - Minnesota Vikings (NFC) 28, Seattle Seahawks (AFC) 26
1998 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFC) 30, Pittsburgh Steelers (AFC) 6
1999 - Cleveland Browns (AFC) 20, Dallas Cowboys (NFC) 17, (OT)

2000 - New England Patriots (AF) 20, San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 0
2001 - St. Louis Rams (NFC) 17, Miami Dolphins (AFC) 10
2002 - New York Giants (NFC) 34, Houston Texans (AFC) 17

Attendance at the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
More than seven 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 1970's. 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 mos.)
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
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

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