The Pro Football Hall of Fame will officially dedicate its new Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Aug. 3 at 10 a.m. ET. The 10,000-square-foot Center is named in honor of Wilson, a member of the Hall of Fame and founder of the Buffalo Bills, whose gift of $2.5 million dollars made the state-of-the-art facility possible.
The Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center will house and preserve the more than 20 million document pages and 3 million photographic images in the Hall of Fame’s collection.
The addition of the new Center also allows the Hall of Fame to renovate the space that previously housed the document collection and the three-dimensional artifact collection. The retrofitted space will then exclusively accommodate the ever-growing artifact collection.
“Ralph Wilson’s outstanding contributions to pro football over many decades are legendary,” stated Steve Perry, president/executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “His generous gift has greatly enhanced our ability to preserve the Hall of Fame’s rapidly growing collection of historic documents and artifacts.”
Mr. Wilson,one of the founding fathers of the American Football League, is known and respected as the “conscience of the NFL” due to his well-documented efforts to put the interests of the league and the fans ahead of himself and his team. In 2009, in recognition of his many contributions to pro football, Wilson was accorded the sport’s highest honor when he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Following his 2009 enshrinement, Mr. Wilson expressed his desire to contribute something to help the Hall of Fame’s continued success in carrying out its mission. He also wanted his contribution to benefit current and future generations of fans. By the winter of 2010 he had made his decision on how he would do exactly that.
“Pro Football has been a major part of my life and the Pro Football Hall of Fame holds a special place in my heart since it is the institution that preserves the legacy of the sport,” offered Wilson when he announced his financial support. “This gift will allow the Hall of Fame to significantly improve its ability to preserve the historic documents and artifacts of the game for the benefit of current and future generations of students, researchers, historians, the National Football League, its member clubs and our fans.”
The Center also includes a video conferencing lab designed to connect schools and students from around the country to the educational assets of the Hall of Fame, including live interaction with Hall of Fame members; a rare books room and a researcher’s reading room.
Wilson and his wife Mary will attend the ceremony as well as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Hall of Fame Class of 2012, and the 80-plus returning Hall of Fame members.
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The event is free and open to the public. Free parking is also available at McKinley High School with complimentary shuttle service to and from the Hall of Fame.