In many ways, Canton, Ohio is the heart of professional football. The American Professional Football Association, later renamed the National Football League, was founded here in 1920. The legendary Jim Thorpe played his first professional football game with the Canton Bulldogs here. And it was here that a group of citizens?all passionate football fans?campaigned for the city to open the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.
Just like the game, the Hall has grown steadily in size and popularity over the years, welcoming visitors from around the world. It now occupies 118,000 square feet of space filled with high-tech interactive exhibits, massive photographic murals, and exclusive artifacts. The Hall's Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center features an expansive collection of pro football documents and artifacts. The Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery brings every Super Bowl back to life, and the Other Leagues Gallery showcases the many pro leagues that have at one time challenged the NFL. Although a teletrivia game and call-the-play theater let visitors relive important moments in the sport, the Pro Football Hall of Fame creates its own history as well. Each year during the Enshrinement Festival, the Hall inducts new players, coaches, and contributors into its ranks, and these legends take the stage to deliver rousing and often emotional acceptance speeches. The Pro Football Hall of Fame also fosters the development of future fans and players through its youth/educational outreach programs.