Canton hasn’t been home to an NFL team for about a century, but that hasn’t stopped them from playing a major role in the sport. Since its establishment in 1963, Canton has been home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Northeast Ohio city seems like an unusual location for the hall of fame of one of America’s most popular spectator sports. However, Canton’s history with the sport has made it an ideal site. First of all, the American Professional Football Association (later renamed the National Football League) was founded in Canton on August 20, 1920. Next, the Canton Bulldogs were considered a powerhouse in the pioneer NFL years. They won back to back NFL Championships in 1922 and 1923 and were led by legendary athlete Jim Thorpe. Thorpe was also named the first NFL league president. Lastly, the citizens organized a well-organized campaign to lobby league officials to build the hall of fame in Canton. Only three months after the initial proposal, Canton was granted approval for the official site. The original complex was made up of just two buildings totaling 19,000 square feet.
Today, the museum is over 115,000 square feet and is one of the most popular attractions for football fans. Over 200,000 people visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame each year. Each August, the Hall of Fame Game “kicks off” the NFL Preseason and is played at Canton McKinley High School’s Fawcett Stadium.