“This is Football Heaven”
From its humble beginnings in 1963 to the present day, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has grown in both size and stature. Recognized worldwide as America’s premier sports Hall of Fame, it is doubtful that even the most optimistic of those who led the drive to bring the Hall of Fame to Canton, Ohio, could have envisioned the successes it would realize.
An exhilarating museum and attraction, the Hall of Fame pays tribute to the talents and triumphs of pro football’s greatest legends. Chronicled within the walls of the Hall of Fame are the stories and circumstances of play that bring to life words such as courage, dedication, vision, fair play, integrity and excellence.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has welcomed more than 10 million fans. Each year, visitors travel from each of the 50 states and from upward of 70 foreign countries to tour the Hall of Fame.
Today, the Hall of Fame reaches tens of millions of additional football fans each year through broad outreach, such as nationally televised events, an in-depth website, educational and youth programs, social media, traveling exhibits and special events held around the country.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame works collaboratively with 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 historical showplace and repository for the sport of professional football.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame, after a stringent review process, achieved accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the highest national recognition afforded the nation’s museums, in 2017. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public. The Hall of Fame joins a list of just over 1,070 of the estimated 33,000 museums (a mere 3%) in the United States to earn AAM accreditation. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the first major sports museum to be accredited.
The Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit educational institution guided by its Mission to “Honor the Greatest of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values and Celebrate Excellence Together.”
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 Sept. 17, 1920; (2) the Canton Bulldogs were an early 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 1960s launched a determined and well-organized campaign to earn the site designation for their city.
The National Football League awarded the site for the Hall of Fame to Canton in 1961. Groundbreaking for the original construction took place on Aug. 11, 1962, and the Hall opened its doors for the first time on Sept. 7, 1963. Four expansions were completed over the years (1971, 1978, 1995 and 2012-13) that have resulted in the museum growing from its original 19,000 square feet to today’s 118,000-square-foot football facility.
Jim Porter was named the Hall's seventh president on Oct. 16, 2021. Previous presidents or executive directors of the Hall of Fame were: Dick McCann (1962-67), Dick Gallagher (1968-1975), Pete Elliott (1979-1996), John Bankert (1996-2005), Steve Perry (2006-2014) and David Baker (2014-2021).