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Pro Football Hall Of Fame Settles Debts As It Courts NFL Draft

Pro Football Hall Of Fame
Artist rendering of the Hall of Fame Village in Canton, which is slated to open in 2020.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton says its billion-dollar expansion project is back on track after questions about funding.

Earlier this year, contractors had filed about $8 million in liens after working on the Hall of Fame’s stadium project. Those liens have been settled, with interest, according to Hall of Fame spokesman Pete Fierle. He also says it’s a “misnomer” that a sales tax increase might be used to help fund the project. 

State Rep. Kirk Schuring, whose district includes the Hall of Fame, calls it false and “a bad rumor.”

“There is no provision in the Ohio Revised Code that would allow a county to either impose or go to the ballot for a sales tax for the purposes of economic development,” Schuring says. “Second of all, even if there was such a feature in the Ohio Revised Code, it would prohibit public tax dollars to go into a private sector investment.”

Schuring did acknowledge that Stark County could ask voters for a general fund tax increase, which county commissioners could then distribute as they see fit. But two of the three commissioners told the New York Times last week that they’re not in favor of that idea.

Hall officials hope to create a billion-dollar “Disney World of football,” complete with hotel, retirement village, and water park. They’re also submitting a joint bid with Cleveland to host the 2019 or 2020 NFL draft, which will be awarded in May.

Over the holiday weekend, Nicole Hoover from Indiana was visiting the hall of fame with her son and husband, and says having more interactive exhibits in the future – or even meeting former players -- would be a plus.

“I was joking with my son, saying, ‘Maybe they’ll have linebackers who can come tackle you so you get that interactive experience.’ The Joe Namath movie in there – that was really cool,” Hoover says. “Listening to the players tell the kids, ‘It doesn’t matter where you came from, what obstacles are ahead of you, you can do it if you have perseverance.’”

Fierle says they’re planning to have more of the Hall of Fame village done in time for the NFL’s centennial in September 2020. And starting today, the exit off of I-77 to the Hall of Fame at Fulton Road will close for road widening to handle increased traffic in the future.