The Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio was “buzzing with excitement” last week: The Class of 2015 was about to be enshrined. Attendance always swells during HOF induction weekend, as fans, family, and former players descend on the football museum. Some museums across the country are seeing declining attendance, but this is not the case at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, located just off Interstate 77. “Attendance is increasing,” says Joe Horrigan, Chief Communications Officer & EVP of the HOF. “We have thirteen national events that football fans love.”
Change is coming to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. According to Horrigan, a major expansion is in the works. The plan is to build a sports and entertainment complex that will create a strong fan experience and promote the history and values of the NFL. An amateur football complex with ten football fields will attract national tournaments to Canton. “We are going to be [to football] what Williamsport is to baseball,” Horrigan says. A world class training center, a hotel/convention center, retail space with restaurants, and a renovated/enhanced football museum are also part of the plan. The construction will take place over three years and should be completely finished by fall 2018.
A visit to the Pro Football HOF would not be complete without taking a tour of the museum. As a vintage sports memorabilia certified appraiser, I always enjoy seeing the old game-worn jerseys, programs, and of course helmets. The numerous interactive displays alone are worth the price of admission. The education provided by the videos is top notch. Only 10% of the collection is on display at any given time, but the HOF produces travelling exhibits at different venues including cultural institutions, allowing people who aren’t geographically close to Canton to view the fantastic collection.
As my day at the museum was ending, I asked Horrigan to name one piece of memorabilia he would like to have at the museum. “I wish I had Dwight Clark’s ‘the catch’ football,” says Horrigan. Clark’s catch in the 1982 NFC Championship game (San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys) signified the end of domination for the Cowboys and the start of the 49ers dynasty in the 1980s.
If you have never visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame, you are missing out.