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Canton Takes More Steps Forward In Building "Disneyland of Football"

Tim Rudell
A crowd gathered for two ceremonies at the Hall of Fame Village.

Construction continues around the clock in Canton to turn the Pro Football Hall of Fame into what is being dubbed “the Disneyland of Football.” On Tuesday, two project milestones were celebrated at once.

The wind made it a little bit hard to hear, but the choice of the hill above the Hall of Fame for the dual ceremony had to do with seeing: the last beam dropped into place for the new Tom Benson Stadium, and the first shovel turned for the four-star hotel to be on this high ground of the Hall of Fame Village.

Developer Stu Lichter says seeing how the work has progressed, and what is coming next, makes the project finally seem real.

“We are going to do this,” Lichter says. “And whereas you start out and say, ‘I hope we did this right,’ we now know we did it right.”

And he says all the research continues to show that the project is going to succeed.

“When people talk about destinations in the United States, they’ll be talking about Disneyland, Disney World, Branson, and Canton, Ohio,” Lichter says.

About two hundred people attended the combined topping-out and ground breaking ceremonies.  

Hall of Fame President David Baker says that along with the building efforts, plans for future events are going well.

Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Attendees watch the topping-off of the final beam for the new Hall of Fame stadium.

“Bowl games are going to be played, the enshrinement is going to be had, and concerts are going to happen,” Baker says. “The high school championships are coming right back here to Canton, Ohio, again. And just last week we found out that the Division 3 NCAA championships for the Alonso Stage Bowl are going to be played here in 2021 and 2022. And that’s just the beginning.”

The Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village and related developments are expected to cost more than $600 million and draw over 3 million visitors a year to northeast Ohio.