Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker hopes the “smart city” being built at Canton Ohio will be the “most inspiring place on earth”.
Last week saw the induction ceremonies for the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement week.
The Hall of Fame Experience will be an indoor amusement park and waterpark themed around American football. “Fans will be able to experience everything, from what it feels like to be suited up for a game to having their own competitions,” says David Baker.
The entire Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village is set to extend to 600 acres. It’s been dubbed the world’s first sports and entertainment “smart city” and is being built at a cost of around $800 million.
The first part of the development is the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The overall vision includes a state-of-the-art stadium; a vast youth sports complex; an indoor arena; a centre for athletic performance and safety; a player care centre; and a hotel.
“If Disney (properties) are the ‘Happiest place on Earth,’ we want to be the ‘Most inspiring place on Earth,’ says Baker. “Football is a great metaphor for leadership, and we can play a role. The game has an incredible history, and kids can get to learn to play the game the right way.”
Since Baker assumed his role at the Hall of Fame, he has enhanced the Canton site’s profile among American football fans, NFL team owners and sponsors.
He has already overseen the major transformation of the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Baker believes it will become a destination venue seating 23,000.
The NCAA Division III football championship game will be coming to Canton in 2020 and 2021. The Black College Hall of Fame Classic will also be played at the stadium. The Ohio State high school football championships will also return.
An 80,000-square-foot indoor performance centre will have, not only a full-size football field but also a configuration for basketball. It is set to open in 2020 and has already been booked for the Division III men’s volleyball championship in 2022.
There will also be a coaches’ university, an officiating institute, an academy of corporate excellence and a centre for athlete performance and safety. In addition there will be a range of living and healthcare facilities. These include Legends Landing, a 143-bed independent and assisted-living and memory care facility. A 15-bed surgical hospital is planned alongside areas for behavioural science, and an addiction centre.
“We have the opportunity to take care of players who are going to play, do play or did play the game of football,” says Baker. “We have an opportunity to make a difference in the health of players.”
The Hall of Fame Village, he says, will be a “smart city with a heart.”
Image courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.