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CANTON, OHIO (November 16, 2012) – As 2013 quickly approaches, the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce look forward with great excitement to the collaborative celebration of 50 years of success since the Pro Football Hall of Fame first opened its doors on Sept. 7, 1963, and the first Enshrinement Festival events were held. Football fans everywhere are encouraged to plan to attend and enjoy all of the 2013 Enshrinement Festival events, which will take place from July 19 through Aug. 6, and also to mark their calendars now for Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 for the 50-Year Community Celebration Day to be held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It all began on Dec. 9, 1959, when an article heralding the Pro Football Hall of Fame appeared in The Canton Repository. The article, entitled “Pro Football Needs Hall of Fame and Logical Site Is Here,” made the argument for Canton, Ohio, because the city is the birthplace of professional football, with the establishment of the first pro league, the American Professional Football League (now NFL), organized here in 1920. The article also indicated that in order to make a Hall of Fame a reality in Canton, it would “require a combined Herculean effort on the part of civic and sports leaders, industry, and perhaps more important, just plain fans.” Civic groups quickly accepted the challenge, and by January of 1961, William E. Umstattd of The Timken Company made a formal bid to the National Football League for acceptance of Canton as the site for a pro football hall of fame. And three months later, Canton was granted official site approval. Wooded parkland was donated from the city and a civic fundraising campaign had, by Feb. 8, 1962, acquired pledges totaling $378,026. Groundbreaking for the original construction was held on Aug. 11, 1962, and on Sept. 7, 1963, the 19,000-square foot building was first opened to the public, the same day that the Hall’s charter class of 17 was inducted. That same year, the first Enshrinement Festival events were held, including a fashion show luncheon, a dinner/dance, and a Saturday morning brunch. The events originated as a way to feed and entertain the Enshrinees and their families while they were in town to practice and then participate in the Enshrinement. Over the years, the Hall of Fame has enjoyed five expansions, bringing the complex to 83,000 sq. ft. Then, in December of 2010, Hall of Fame Board of Trustees announced a two-year expansion and renovation project, the largest in the Hall of Fame’s history, at an estimated cost of $27 million. The project was dubbed The “Future 50” Expansion and Renovation Project because its completion, scheduled for 2013, will coincide with the Hall of Fame’s 50-Year Celebration and constitute the foundation for success in the next 50 years. The project will expand the museum to 118,000 sq. ft. and enables them to better preserve and present the ever-growing collection of historical artifacts and documents. It also provides major enhancements to the visitor experience and accommodates the growing number of Hall of Fame guests, especially during the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival. Likewise, the Enshrinement Festival events have grown from the original four in 1963 to a total of 19 over two and half weeks, enjoyed by nearly 700,000 people and producing an economic impact of nearly $32 million for Canton/Stark County, and $56 million for the State of Ohio. A team of 4,200 extraordinary community volunteers annually joins with the professional staffs at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Pro Football Hall of Fame to plan and stage the events that surround the central focus of the entire celebration – the Enshrinement of football players, coaches, and contributors into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which has earned its reputation as “America’s Premier Sports Museum and Showplace!” The Herculean effort referred to in 1959 still exists today, and has resulted in the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival’s well-earned tag line – “It’s a One of a Kind Celebration!” Stay tuned for details about the Community Celebration Day on September 7, 2013, and other activities being planned to appropriately mark this important milestone, and periodically check out the websites for more information as it develops at www.profootballhofef.com or www.profootballhof.com.

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