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The Hall of Fame Celebrates 53 Years

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09/07/2016

The Hall of Fame Celebrates 53 Years

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Celebrates its 53rd birthday today. Since opening in 1963, the world-class pro football museum has grown in both size and stature.

The Mission, Vision and Values

Committed to its Mission to Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History; Promote its Values and Celebrate Excellence Everywhere; the Hall of Fame is driven by a Vision that states, “It is not just the past, it’s the future; it’s not just Canton, it’s the world; it’s not just a great museum for football, it’s a message of excellence EVERYWHERE.”

The Hall of Fame’s goal is to expand its worldwide audience, promote the Hall of Fame as a “destination,” and deliver its Values driven messages of Commitment, Courage, Integrity, Respect and Excellence. 

The Dream That Was Built Into a Reality

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is a dream that was built into a reality by a community that accepted a bold challenge.  The challenge came in the form of a December 6, 1959 Canton Repository newspaper headline that read: “PRO FOOTBALL NEEDS HALL OF FAME AND LOGICAL SITE IS HERE.”  Canton, the newspaper argued, was a natural for the Hall of Fame site.  After all, the city had been the cradle of pro football back in the leather helmet days of the early 1900s.  Jim Thorpe, the first big-name athlete to play pro football, had his glory days playing for the Canton Bulldogs.  And the Bulldogs were the first two-time champions of the National Football League.  The city’s most powerful credential, however, was the fact that the National Football League was founded in Canton in 1920.

Civic groups and community leaders quickly embraced the newspaper’s challenge.  Land was donated by the city and a fund-raising campaign acquired pledges totaling $378,026.  The pledges included contributors like the Canton Police who kicked in one dollar apiece, and donors like the insurance agent who pledged $300 and made faithful $6.25 monthly payments for years even after he’d moved out of the area.  The impressive campaign eventually earned Canton site designation by the league, and on September 7, 1963 the Pro Football Hall of Fame opened its doors to the public.

The commitment to the dream, however, didn’t end with the grand opening of the Hall of Fame.  It was just the beginning of the strong allegiance that still exists today.  Since 1963 multiple expansion and renovation projects have transformed the Hall of Fame into the exciting 118,000 square-foot landmark it is today.

The Legends Archives

A key component of the Hall of Fame today is the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center, a state-of-the-art archives facility that preserves the game’s most important documents and records and a personal archive, not just for the Hall of Famers, but for “The Legends of the Game” -- every person to have played in the National Football League.

Hall of Fame Village

Currently, the Hall of Fame is undergoing the largest expansion and renovation in its history with the creation of Hall of Fame Village. This dynamic $500 million development project aligns with the Hall of Fame’s Mission, Values and Vision and is designed to create the most inspirational place on Earth. Exemplifying this objective is the recently completed A Game for Life, an immersive high-tech, high-energy holographic theater presentation that connects the values of the game to everyday life. 

The Hall of Fame Village project includes eight main components:

  • The Pro Football Hall of Fame Museum
  • Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium/Sports & Entertainment Complex
  • Four-Star Hotel & Conference Center
  • Legends Landing/Residential (Independent & Assisted Living Facility)
  • State-of-the-Art National Football &Youth Sports Complex
  • Center for Excellence (Coaches University, Academy of Corporate Excellence; Institute of Officiating; Safety, Health & Performance Center)
  • Main Street Hall of Fame (restaurants and support retail)
  • HOF/NFL Family Experience (high-tech virtual reality game day experiences)

The multi-phased Hall of Fame Village project is being led by the Hall of Fame and its master developer, Industrial Realty Group, and will include a multitude of partners involved with the various components. The major portion of the Hall of Fame Village is scheduled for completion by 2019 to coincide the NFL’s centennial season.

The Hall beyond Its Walls

Additionally, the Hall of Fame’s programming across the world has grown dramatically in recent years. Hall of Fame Gold Jackets (living Hall of Famers) engage with thousands of students annually through video conferencing programs that emphasize the values learned form the game. The Hall of Fame is the subject of 11 nationally televised programs throughout the year and hosts a weekly nationally broadcast radio program on SiriusXM radio. Special programs and presentations like the Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence by Kay Jewelers or the Hall of Fame-U.S. Army Award of Excellence are just two examples of sponsored outreach programs that deliver the Hall of Fame’s message of excellence. And temporary and traveling exhibitions in venues across the country bring the Hall of Fame and the sport’s history to audiences beyond Canton. 

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 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 inspirational history and values of professional football.

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