CANTON, Ohio — With shovels in hand, developers broke ground on the latest project at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, signaling the beginning of Phase II of the Hall of Fame Village.
The groundbreaking was a virtual ceremony because of the COVID-19 pandemic and was featured in an online video.
Phase II will be highlighted by the Constellation Center for Excellence, located at the west end of the stadium. The 75,000 square-foot office building will be utilized for various research and programming initiatives.
“It’s rare that you have a chance to work with the most popular spot in America as intellectual property to build an experience around,” said Michael Crawford, president and CEO of Hall of Fame Resorts and Entertainment Company. It could be companies focused on wellness, player care, nutrition. It could be coaches' clinics, it could be business programming or featured speakers.”
A new video scoreboard will be anchored on the building. Plans also call for a football-themed water park, a hotel, retail shops and a sports training facility.
“Disneyland in California is 500 acres of land. We have 600 of land here,” Crawford said. “No one ever thought Anaheim California in the middle of orange groves is going to turn into this phenomenal mecca of leisure tourism. I’d say the same thing about Canton, Ohio.”
More renovations are also planned for the east end-zone of Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium to create spacious gathering dining and drinking areas, similar to updates made to Progressive Field and Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse
“This may not be a locked and loaded in-your-seat for three hours kind of environment, there could be services, bars, restaurants seating of course,” Crawford said. ”But a place for people to come and gather.”
Crawford said the Hall of Fame Village is designed to create a football immersion destination for fans.
"If you think about the world of sports today, most fans don't get to see a professional football game in a professional football stadium. So, creating an environment where they can be immersed in that, we think is really going to be successful,” said Crawford. “They might come in for a day or a weekend or a couple of days during the week and be part of an event, go to our fantastic water park, football themed that we're going to create. Have a dinner here, stay a night or two."
Construction is also underway on the McKinley Grand Hotel in Downtown Canton. When finished, it will become a DoubleTree by Hilton.
Phase I included renovations to then Fawcett Stadium, now known as Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Construction of several youth fields near Canton McKinley High School were also included in Phase I.
The Constellation Center for Excellence is expected to be finished by late 2021.
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