History of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Facts and History

Hall of Fame opened on Sept. 7, 1963

HOF_Constuction_100-85PHOTO GALLERY:

Hall of Fame through the years (click on image to view)


Since opening in 1963, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has grown in both size and stature.  The building was expanded in 1971, 1978 and 1995, and completed major exhibit gallery renovations in 2003, 2008, and 2009.  Together, these improvements have transformed the original 19,000 square-foot Hall of Fame museum into an exciting internationally recognized institution and travel destination.  Currently, the Hall of Fame is undergoing the largest expansion and renovation in its history. The "Future 50" Expansion & Renovation Project has expanded the museum to 118,000 square feet. The two-year, $27 million project was completed in the summer of 2013 after a major renovation to 38,000 square feet of museum space was finished.

Today, the Hall of Fame stands as a shining tribute to the men who have made professional football America’s most popular sport.


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 (I-80) 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, later renamed 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 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 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 and was named President in 2003. He served in that role through his retirement on December 31, 2005.

Steve Perry became the Pro Football Hall of Fame's fifth President/Executive Director on April 24, 2006 and served through his retirement in 2014. He has had an extensive career in management of large private sector and public sector organizations. Most recently, he served in the Federal government as the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in Washington, D.C. Perry was a former member of the Hall of Fame's Board of Directors (1993-2001) and has been an active volunteer in numerous professional and community organizations.

David Baker was named President/Executive Director on January 6, 2014. Baker served as the Commissioner of the Arena Football League for 12 years from 1996 to 2008. The 6’9” Baker was a power forward and captain of the basketball team at the University of California at Irvine from 1971-75. He also played two seasons of professional basketball in Europe before returning to obtain a Juris Doctorate degree from Pepperdine University School of Law where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review. As an attorney in California, Baker specialized in corporate mergers, acquisitions and real estate law. From 1984-88 he served as a City Councilman and Mayor of Irvine, California. For four years before taking his position at the Hall of Fame, he worked as a Partner in Union Village, LLC, the largest healthcare project in the United States creating thousands of jobs in Henderson, Nevada as the first Integrated Health Village in the world.

The Hall of Fame Today

Mission Statement


  • Honor the Heroes of the Game
  • Preserve its History
  • Promote its Values
  • Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Today Reaches Outside of Canton

Today, the Hall of Fame is now available outside of Canton through a variety of initiatives from traveling exhibits, artifacts on loan, youth and educational outreach programs, and a dynamic website. 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. In turn, the Hall strives to serve as the best possible historical showplace and repository for the sport of pro football. The Hall of Fame is 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 sport’s history.

Hours of Operation

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. Plan a visit today. The hours for the remainder of the year are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission rates/hours

Inside the Hall

The Hall represents its sport in a great many colorful and entertaining ways with a multitude of interactive experiences.

Perhaps the most emotional stop during a tour of the museum is the Hall of Fame Gallery which houses the bronze bust of each enshrinee. Completion of the renovated gallery occurred in 2003 and now offers visitors the opportunity to learn about each member of the Hall through touch screen kiosks that include bios, photos, and video on the inductees.

The Pro Football Adventure Room examines the many other pro leagues that have challenged the NFL since its founding in 1920.

The Moments, Memories & Mementos Gallery focuses on the achievements made by the members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. High-tech video, audio, and lighting help bring the treasured artifacts to life in dynamic fashion. The Pro Football Today Gallery examines contemporary themes in the NFL. This area is filled with mementos from recent history-making performances.

The Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery recaps every Super Bowl played to date. Interactive kiosks and rare artifacts bring the Super Bowl to life. The newest gallery in the Hall of Fame is also home to the Super Bowl Theater, an incredible presentation of a NFL Films production.

As visitors leave the exhibit level of the Hall and return to the ground floor, they enter into an interactive area that includes a Teletrivia game, Call-the-Play-Theater, an all-new Madden EA Sports video game display and other exhibits such as a display devoted to officiating.

Hall of Fame Store

The Hall of Fame’s museum store offers a wide variety of merchandise that includes special Hall of Fame products in addition to merchandise for all 32 NFL teams. The Hall’s store is also available online. Shop now>>>


The brand new Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center, a state-of-the-art facility, opened in August 2012. The archives are home to the world's largest collection of document related to professional football. The  Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center is open to the public by appointment only.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s enshrinement celebration is the largest of its kind. Each summer, the community celebrates the enshrinement and the annual NFL preseason game with a two and a half week festival. The local Chamber of Commerce Festival Office stages 24 public events ranging from balloon races, ribs burnoff, to the Enshrinees Dinner where each member of the new class receives his gold Hall of Fame jacket.

The central focus of the entire Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival celebration is the Enshrinement Ceremony where each newly elected football legend takes center stage and shares with the audience his innermost emotions and career experiences in a heartfelt and emotional acceptance speech. Thousands attend and millions more watch and listen as the nationally televised event unfolds. The annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony is not only a moving and inspirational salute to the game’s all-time great players, coaches and contributors; it is also one of the most spectacular events in all of sports.

Visit our Enshrinement Festival Section>>>

Game - Each NFL season kicks with the annual Hall of Fame Game played in Canton's Fawcett Stadium.

Other Related Topics about the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Selection Process - a 46-member Board of Selectors, a committee largely made up of sports writers, is responsible for electing new members to the Hall of Fame each year. | Details about the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Selection Process

Calendar of Special Events

The Hall of Fame holds a variety of special events in Canton and around the country. Here is the latest calendar>>>