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The first big private gift comes in for the pro football HOF project
Historic Fawcett Stadium, built as a WPA project in the 1930s, will get a new look and a new name

Tim Rudell
Artist'a rendering of possible new look for Fawcett Stadium. Situated beside the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, its where the annual Hall of Fame game is played
Courtesy of Pro Football Hall of Fame
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The Pro Football Hall of Fame  has landed its first large private investment in a billion-dollar plan to create a village around the Canton museum. WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports.

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It’s an $11 million gift from Tom Benson, owner of the NFL New Orleans Saints. Most of it will go toward rebuilding historic Fawcett Stadium into an integrated complex with the Hall of Fame. 

The Hall’s Pete Fierle says the project is just a first step one in a far bigger concept still in the planning stages.Pete Fierle The Hall of Fame and stadium complex would be surrounded by a high-end hotel and conference center, field houses for large events, practice facilities, residential and retail components, and interactive venues for families.

“The investment in doing Hall of Fame Village would turn this area into a Disney for football if you will.”

Destination creation
Dennis Saunier, long-time President and C&O head of the Canton Area Chamber of Commerce says it can be a very big deal for the area.

“The vision at hand will be perhaps the most singular economic impact on the community in recent years…and that includes oil and gas.”   

Fierle say, the Stadium re-build will begin next year.

 “We’ll be starting that immediately after Hall of Fame 

Historic picture of Fawcett Stadium in its early yearenshrinement and game next summer. The stadium will carry Mr. Benson’s name so it will be known as Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

Help for aging players

A million dollars of the Benson gift will also go toward Legends Landing in the Hall of Fame Village, a place for former players in need of living assistance.

Related WKSU Stories

Pro Football Hall of Fame picks 26 semifinalists for the Class of 2015
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

HOF's Canton expansion could take an island and make it a village
Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Listener Comments:

The HOF has needed a shot in the arm for many years and this project will go a long way to getting the attraction the attention it deserves (next: upgrade the festival!), I question the renaming of Fawcett Stadium. Renaming a venue should be an option of last resort- used only when the original name has been sullied by a scandal involving the person for whom the venue was named. John Fawcett, a member of the Canton City School Board in the 1930s and an ardent athlete himself has been part of no known scandal. The Stadium was named to honor him. Now that honor seems temporary because he is not here to donate millions of dollars to prevent the name change. That, in itself, is a scandal.

Posted by: Paula Guiler (Canton) on November 25, 2014 3:11AM
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