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Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium

Tom Benson Stadium
USFL Championship Game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in 2022
Tom Benson Stadium is located in Ohio
Tom Benson Stadium
Tom Benson Stadium
Location in Ohio
Tom Benson Stadium is located in the United States
Tom Benson Stadium
Tom Benson Stadium
Location in the United States
Former namesFawcett Stadium
(1938–2015)
Location1835 Harrison Ave NW, Canton, Ohio, U.S.
Coordinates40°49′12″N 81°23′53″W / 40.820°N 81.398°W / 40.820; -81.398
OwnerHall of Fame Village
Capacity23,000
SurfaceNatural grass (1938–1997)
AstroTurf (1997–2016)
Turf Nation (2016–present)
Construction
Broke ground1924
Opened1938, 86 years ago
2016 (re-opened)
Renovated2015–2021
Construction costUS$500,000[1]
Tenants
Hall of Fame Game (NFL) 1962–present
Canton McKinley Bulldogs (OHSAA) 1924–present
Walsh Cavaliers (NCAA) 1998–2022
Lincoln Lions (OHSAA) 1926–1975
Lehman Polar Bears (OHSAA) 1932–1975
GlenOak Golden Eagles (OHSAA) 1997–2006
Timken Trojans (OHSAA) 1976–2014
Malone Pioneers (NCAA) 1993–2018
New Jersey Generals (USFL) 2023
Pittsburgh Maulers (USFL) 2023

Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, formerly Fawcett Stadium, is a football stadium and entertainment complex in Canton, Ohio. It is a major component of Hall of Fame Village, located adjacent to the grounds of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The venue hosts the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game and serves as the home field for the football teams from Canton McKinley High School. It also served as the home field for Malone University from 1993 to 2018 and Walsh University from 1998 to 2022.[2] It also served as the home stadium for a number of other Canton-area high schools.

The stadium was constructed as a replacement for League Field, the city's previous stadium, where Canton's professional football team, the Bulldogs, played many of their games. First dedicated as Fawcett Stadium in 1938, the stadium's original name honored the memory of John A. Fawcett, a former Canton board of education member, who died several years before the stadium was completed.

On November 24, 2014, it was announced that Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints, would be donating $11 million to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, $10 million of which was to go into renovating Fawcett Stadium and recouping the money by renting use of the stadium. In response to Benson's donation, the Hall of Fame announced that Fawcett Stadium would be renamed Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium,[3][4] which was dedicated on August 3, 2017. Benson died less than a year later, on March 15, 2018.

The renovation of Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium was part of the approximately $200 million construction completed in Phase I of the Hall of Fame Village expansion project.[5][6]

Construction

The stadium was built from 1937 to 1939 at an estimated cost of $500,000. The federal government paid for $400,000 in the form of WPA manpower, while a school board bond issue paid for the materials. The stadium originally seated 15,000 and was the largest high school stadium in the country at that time.

On the grounds of the facility was a park, aptly named "Stadium Park". This park still exists, although it is now much more disconnected from the stadium, as part of it was used for the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the rest of the park is separated from Tom Benson Stadium by Interstate 77.[1]

History

Fawcett Stadium in 2006

Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium seats 23,000 and has an NFL-caliber press box.[7]

Five Canton area high schools have played their football seasons on this field (McKinley Bulldogs, Lincoln Lions, Lehman Polar Bears, GlenOak Golden Eagles, and Canton Timken Trojans). Future Cleveland Browns great and Pro Football Hall of Famer Marion Motley, who along with fellow Hall of Famer Bill Willis broke the color barrier in modern professional football with the Cleveland Browns in 1946, scored the first touchdown in the stadium in 1938. Each summer, it hosts the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, the first contest of the National Football League (NFL) exhibition season.

Malone University also previously utilized the stadium as their home field for football until the program was discontinued after the 2018 season.[8]

It is presently the home field for the McKinley Senior High School. The Ohio High School Athletic Association football state championship games were split between Fawcett Stadium and nearby Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon between 1991 and 2014, and all football state championship games were played at the stadium in 2017 and 2018.[9]

In 1997, the stadium underwent a major renovation and a name change. Backed by the Canton community, $4.3 million worth of improvements were completed on the stadium. Some of the major improvements included state-of-the-art Astroturf with a player friendly rubber base, new locker room facilities, new scoreboard with graphics display screen, new lighting, new sound system, new electrical services, structural repairs, vinyl caps for all wooden seats, and a renovated press box. The newly renovated facility was also renamed to include the words Pro Football Hall of Fame Field.[1]

From 1997 to 2000, Benson Stadium was the home of the Victory Bowl, the NCCAA championship football game. In 2002, The Sporting News rated Benson Stadium the number one high school football venue in America.[10]

In 2009, the stadium hosted the inaugural IFAF Junior World Championship of American Football. The tournament gathered 16 best national teams from around the world. It hosted the 2015 IFAF World Championship in 2015.

On February 24, 2021, the Women's Football Alliance announced a multi-year deal to host its championship weekend at the Stadium.[11]

On August 29, 2021, the stadium was the site of a high school football game between Bishop Sycamore and IMG Academy, in which IMG Academy defeated Bishop Sycamore, 58–0. Following the game, the existence of Bishop Sycamore was questioned by fans and the school is accused of running a grift and duping ESPN into airing the game.[12] Bishop Sycamore head coach Roy Johnson was fired following the game and an arrest warrant was issued towards him.[13]

The stadium was planned to be the site of the Stagg Bowl in 2020 and 2021, hosted by the Ohio Athletic Conference. The 2020 edition was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[14] The 2021 edition was played on December 17, 2021.[15]

The United States Football League played its inaugural 2022 postseason at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium because of scheduling conflicts with the 2022 World Games at Legion Field and Protective Stadium. Semifinal games were played on June 25, while the championship game was played on July 3.[16] On January 25, 2023, it was announced that the Pittsburgh Maulers and the New Jersey Generals would be playing their home games at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. The 2023 USFL North Division playoff game and the USFL Championship will also be played in that stadium.

2015–16 reconstruction

After the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame game concluded, demolition began on the stadium. The construction limited fan seating during the fall football season. The final phase of construction was scheduled to begin after the 2016 Hall of Fame Game. However, approximately an hour prior to kickoff, the game was cancelled due to poor field conditions caused by the use of improper paints applied to the field to create the Hall of Fame logo and other on-field graphics.[17]

References

  1. ^ a b c "Fawcett Stadium". Football.ballparks.com. 1999-08-09. Archived from the original on 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
  2. ^ "Canton Repository". www.cantonrep.com. Retrieved 2022-04-18.
  3. ^ "Tom Benson donates $11M to Hall" (Press release). Pro Football Hall of Fame. November 24, 2014. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  4. ^ Patra, Kevin (November 24, 2014). "Tom Benson makes $11 million pledge to Hall of Fame". National Football League. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  5. ^ "Pro Football Hall of Fame Village announces 'agreement in principal' on merger that could bring more cash to project". wkyc3.com. 2 August 2019. Archived from the original on 26 October 2021. Retrieved 2 August 2019.
  6. ^ "Pro Football Hall of Fame Village delays frustrate neighbors in Canton". wkyc3.com. August 2019. Archived from the original on 26 October 2021. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  7. ^ "Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium dedicated". Archived from the original on 2017-08-21. Retrieved 2017-08-21.
  8. ^ "Malone University dropping football program amid restructuring". Akron Beacon Journal. The Canton Repository/GateHouse Media Ohio. Archived from the original on 2021-10-26. Retrieved 2021-10-26.
  9. ^ "All-Time State Tournament Results". www.ohsaa.org. Archived from the original on 2016-05-14. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  10. ^ "Canton McKinley Football – Stadium and Facilities". CantonMcKinley.com. Archived from the original on 2013-01-31. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
  11. ^ "Women's Football Alliance to Host Championship Weekend at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium". 24 February 2021. Archived from the original on 25 February 2021. Retrieved 24 February 2021.
  12. ^ "Bishop Sycamore makes a fool of ESPN, claimed it was loaded with D1 talent and loses 58–0". 30 August 2021.
  13. ^ "Roy Johnson, coach of Bishop Sycamore high school football team, is let go". USA Today.
  14. ^ "NCAA Division III cancels 2020 fall championships". CantonRep.com. 5 August 2020.
  15. ^ "2019 – 2022 Future DIII NCAA Championship Sites | NCAA.com". www.ncaa.com. Archived from the original on 2021-03-04. Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  16. ^ "USFL Playoff Schedule | 2022".<
  17. ^ "No home games for McKinley in 2016". FridayNightOhio.com. September 2, 2015. Archived from the original on November 19, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2015.

Proceso. 2019-20-10

Events and tenants
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the Victory Bowl
1997–2000
Succeeded by
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Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium
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