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Hall of Fame Village helping revitalize Canton attraction

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Posted at 6:19 PM, Dec 22, 2022

The inaugural Winter Blitz near the Pro Football Hall of Fame is attracting families on holiday break and providing an opportunity to showcase the overhaul of the surrounding Hall of Fame Village.

“I came to the Football Hall of Fame once as a kid. Now they’re doing all this and making it an actual destination. This is pretty cool,” said Jeff Duff, who grew up in Green and now lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Duff was in town visiting his mother for Christmas and brought his family to Winter Blitz for the afternoon. His son Daryl was awed by the opportunity to play catch in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium where professional players kick off the season during Enshrinement week.

“This has only happened in dreams. So this is really cool to be out here,” the football loving 10 year old said.

Winter Blitz features holiday music and decorations, ice sculptures, attractions like Santa Claus and craft shows in the locker rooms and a 35-foot “Touchdown Tubing Hill” carrying riders through one of the goal posts and endzone.

“It’s part of the stadium that we want to use year-round. This added 20 dates to our calendar,” explained Vic Grogovitz, the executive vice president of sales and marketing at Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Co. “We’re building our brand and we want to get people out here to see what we’re doing.”

For several years, Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Co. has been revitalizing the area around the stadium and the Pro Football Hall of Fame museum, hoping to turn it into an immersive destination.

“It was originally just a vision of an incredible opportunity to build around what is the iconic Pro Football Hall of Fame museum. What you’re seeing now is it coming to life, coming up out of the ground in the form of assets, a media company and a gaming enterprise,” said Anne Graffice, the company’s executive vice president of public affairs.

What was once a residential neighborhood is transforming into 100 acres of dining, shopping and entertainment. The second of three phases recently added the country’s largest domed facility of its kind, an office and administration building which will house a variety of tenants and a Play Action Plaza featuring the IX Center’s former Ferris wheel and zipline.

A strip of retail and cuisine is also under construction on the campus. A Build-A-Bear workshop is already up and running and will soon be joined by more dining and entertainment. Many of the ventures will have football-themes, including businesses from Football Hall of Famers like Don Shula’s Restaurant and an ice cream sandwich shop called Smoosh Cookies, created by Isaac Bruce.

“It’s a totally immersive experience… whether you’re shopping, whether you’re riding around in Play Action Plaza to maybe having a tournament in the dome. There’s truly something for everyone,” said Public Affairs Specialist Madison Zurakowski.

When the third and final phase is complete with a hotel, waterpark and sportsbook, the Hall of Fame Village will contain close to $1 billion in assets. The resort and entertainment company, which is operating closely with the Pro Football Hall of Fame nonprofit, said the attractions will also pump money back into the local economy, generating about $100 million in tax revenue for Canton and Stark County.

“Those are real dollars. You’re not just going to be fixing potholes. You’re going to be building new roads and creating sustained wealth and transformative change for the community, writing a new narrative of prosperity is how I look at it,” Graffice said.

In addition to tax revenue, she said the Hall of Village will create new jobs and bring new visitors to the region who travel along the busy I-77 corridor.

“Millions and millions of people come by the Hall of Fame and literally come for a few hours, historically, and then move on,” she said.

She and others said it’s now an opportunity to build off of Canton’s football legacy and turn it into a destination for the future.

“I think a lot of people will take pride - not only in what we’re doing. But also for the community to maybe be more excited to come up and see all the offerings that we provide, be proud to be from here and what we represent,” said Zurakowski.

You can read more about the attractions and future plans at the Hall of Fame Village by clicking on this link.

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