NEWS

Pro Football Hall of Fame expansion would generate $15.3 billion

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another major expansion to the Pro Football Hall of Fame would generate $15.3 billion within Stark County over a 25-year period, according to an economic study released Tuesday.

The planned Hall of Fame Village would include a new hotel and conference center, restaurants, retail, a residential community for retired athletes, a youth sports complex, and a sports-entertainment complex. The Hall of Fame's approval of the "Disney World of Football'' was announced last fall.

Beyond an update to the Hall of Fame Stadium beginning this fall, groundbreaking for none of the other projects has been announced. Hall of Fame President David Baker said about $30 million has been raised of projected $476 million public-private project. Baker said several elements, including the hotel, would be privately funded and owned.

"I can guarantee this is going to happen,'' Baker said. "The goal isn't to just make this good, it is to make it great. So good that people jump in a car and drive all day long to get here.''

Highlights of the months-long economic impact study of the village included these projections over a 25-year period:

  • • $10 billion in cumulative new direct spending.
  • • 13,375 new full- and part-time jobs in a peak year.
  • • $3.6 billion cumulative net new personal earnings.
  • • $307.3 million net new cumulative Stark County tax revenues.
  • • $14.7 billion cumulative net new total economic impact for Ohio.
     

"Those are very large numbers. Those are some of the largest numbers that I've ever estimated,'' said Bill Krueger of Conventions, Sports and Leisure International, who compiled the estmates.

Projected construction-related impact included 4,609 new jobs statewide creating $227 million in personal earnings.

Ongoing annual impacts of the project estimates are 11,229 new full- and part-time jobs creating $231 million in income.

The Hall of Fame's first goal is to begin with redevelopment of Fawcett Stadium next door into the new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, donated $11 million toward the Hall of Fame's expansion.

 "What we'd like to do is the north side of the stands and to lower the field,'' Baker said. "When this is done, it's not going to be a high school field where an NFL game is played, it's going to be an NFL stadium and entertainment venue.''

Baker said construction would pause for the 2016 Hall of Fame enshrinement and game.

"The following year we would be the south stands and the center for excellence, and the parking will be underground,'' Baker said.

A booklet passed out at a media briefing Tuesday included these target completion dates: An enhanced museum planned for January 2016; redevelopment of the attached Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium (August 2017); hotel and conference center (September 2017); Hall of Fame experience, an indoor and outdoor activity center (April 2018); youth fields (May 2018); 150 residential units, including an assisted living facility (May 2018); Center for Excellence, an educational and training complex that would include an academy for corporate excellence (May 2018), and a retail and restaurant space (May 2018).

"This a really complicated project with a lot of parts and different disciplines. We're pretty cetain we have a clear path to get that accomplished,'' said Stu Lichter, President of Industrial Realty Group, which has developed corporate headquarters for Goodyear and Hoover. "We actually are ecstatic to be involved with a project this significant.''

Baker said 11 nearby homes have been purchased through fair-market deals and the Hall is not seeking eminent domain to acquire more land.

Some of the images of what the village could look like do not include McKinley High School, which is next to the Hall of Fame. There are no plans to move the school.

"This is still fluid,'' Baker said. "The pictures you see will change. The (plans) may grow smaller; they may grow bigger.''

The Hall of Fame completed a $27 million expansion in 2013, in time to celebrate the Hall's 50th anniversary. It now hopes to have the new village built and operating before the 100th anniversary of the NFL in 2020.

"That will be our Super Bowl. All eyes will be focused on Canton, Ohio,'' Baker said.

Baker pointed out the Hall of Fame drew 250,000 visitors last year, about half of what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame draws in Cleveland. He also mentioned Hersey Park in Pennsylvania (3.2 million visitors), Branson Missouri (7.5 million) and Disney World (17.8 million) to provide perspective for the Hall of Fame's current status and potential goals.

"We can do perhaps a better job of coordinating market plans like they do at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,'' Baker said.

In explaining the need for a hotel, Baker noted when the Hall of Fame hosts an annual NFL exhibition game, teams stay in Cleveland because Canton does not have a four-star hotel, and NFL players who come in for an annual rookie symposium stay in Aurora.

 

cleveland.com

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