Renovations Complete at the Pro Football Hall of Fame
by Randy Snow
Originally posted on Yahoo! Voices, Friday, July 12, 2013
The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio recently completed a major renovation project to coincide with its fiftieth anniversary this year. Over the years, I have visited the Hall several times. Most recently, I was there in April, but the renovations were still going on at the time and some sections were closed to the public.
The Hall officially opened on September 7, 1963. The inaugural, charter class of 17 inductees included Jim Thorpe, George Halas, Dutch Clark, Curly Lambeau, Bronko Nagurski, Ernie Nevers, John (Blood) McNally, Red Grange, Don Hutson, Tim Mara, George Preston Marshall, Sammy Baugh, Bert Bell, Joe Carr, Mel Hein, Wilbur (Pete) Henry and Robert (Cal) Hubbard.
The Hall has a new entrance that is closer to the parking lot, which was the first of many surprises my son, Aaron, and I found on our visit. Once we paid our admission, we had our picture taken in front of a green screen. When we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland a few years ago, they did the same thing. With one picture they were able to place our images in front of several different places around the Hall. My favorite was one of us in front of the wall of enshrinee busts. There were also shots of us outside by the new entrance, on a football field and on faux tickets for the Hall of Fame game.
A new photo gallery is one of the first things you will see once you enter the Hall and it has some great old black and white photographs from NFL days gone by. The centerpiece of the photo gallery is a vintage automobile, a Hupmobile to be exact. It was in a Canton, Ohio Hupmobile dealership owned by Ralph Hay, the owner of the Canton Bulldogs, where a meeting was held on September 17, 1920 that would change football history. On that day, Hay, George Halas and other team owners met to form the American Professional Football Association. In 1922, it changed its name to the National Football League.
The gift shop at the Hall was one of the first areas to be renovated and it has been greatly expanded. There are so many items for sale there that you could spend all day in there trying to decide what NFL team memorabilia or item of clothing you want to buy.
In a conference room on the main level there were three different lectures presented, each one conducted at the top of the hour. One was on the evolution of the helmet, another was on defunct teams and the third was on unique artifacts owned by the Hall.
Whenever I go to the Hall, one of the items I always look for is the specially made shoe worn by kicker Tom Dempsey of the New Orleans Saints. Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal on November 8, 1970, a record that still stands today. The record has been tied twice, but never broken. I could not find the shoe anywhere in the Hall so I had to ask someone where it was. As it turns out, it is part of a traveling exhibit that the Hall has going around the country right now.
If you have not been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame recently, start planning your trip now. It has always been a great place to visit, but now, it is even better.
Upcoming Events at the HOF
This year's Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony will take place on Saturday, August 3rd. The Class of 2013 consists of Larry Allen, Chris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells, Dave Robinson and Warren Sapp.
The Hall of Fame game will be played on Sunday, August 4th next door at Fawcett Stadium between the Miami Dolphins and the Dallas Cowboys.