CANTON, Ohio– Work to transform the Pro Football Hall of Fame from a tourist stop to a $600 million, football-themed destination is quickly moving from concept to reality.
Among the most visible improvements is work that is being done to the new Tom Benson Stadium, a one-of-a-kind football stadium with a stage literally built into the stands for concerts and the Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies.
But bulldozers are also excavating land behind the existing museum in preparation for next month’s groundbreaking for a four-star, football-themed hotel.
“We used to say it would be unlike anything in this region. I’m telling you it’s going to be unlike anything in the country. All football-themed, a 50-foot ceiling in the lobby, big furniture for big football players that come here,” said Hall of Fame spokesman Pete Fierle.
“But it’s going to be a four-star hotel so it will be every bit of the amenities that you would expect at a high-end hotel,” Fierle said. “If you are a Browns fan, it will be illuminated in brown and orange. In the room, there will be images of Otto Graham or Ozzie Newsome.”
The planned Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village will eventually have nine attractions, including restaurants and retail, as well as residential.
“It’s going to be about a $200 million, virtual reality attraction. Its going to have a water theme park and another hotel attached to it. But it’s going to be a virtual reality that will allow the fan to go in, and not only go to the game, but be in the game,” Fierle said.
New youth football fields will also soon be added to those that are already built, bringing to six the number of fields on the property. They will be intended to host some of the best youth football players from around the country, who will not only learn more about their sport during visits, but about sportsmanship.
The familiar museum will remain and will be the centerpiece of the project that is rapidly rising.
“It is going to create billions of dollars for Northeast Ohio. The momentum that we are building off of, this bringing people here for three four or five days, they are going to want to see what the rest of Northeast Ohio has to offer. And that’s where we are going to see it impact the rest of this entire region in a big way,” Fierle said.