Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium
|Owner||Canton City School District|
|Surface||FieldTurf (formerly grass, later AstroTurf)|
|Construction cost||$500,000.00 USD|
|Canton McKinley High School Bulldogs (1924–present)
Malone University Pioneers
Walsh University Cavaliers
Pro Football Hall of Fame Game (1962–1965; 1967–present) (NFL)
Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium (previously known as Fawcett Stadium) is a football stadium in Canton, Ohio, USA. The stadium is located adjacent to the grounds of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and plays host to the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, along with various high school and college football games. Dedicated in 1938, the stadium's original name honored the memory of former Canton board of education member John A. Fawcett, who died several years before the stadium was completed.
On November 24, 2014, it was announced that Tom Benson, the 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. In response to Benson's donation, the Hall of Fame announced that Fawcett Stadium would be renamed Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium as "the first step in a 'master plan' for major upgrades and expansion of the Hall of Fame Village."
Benson Stadium currently serves as the home for Canton McKinley High School and Division II college football teams at Malone University and Walsh University. The stadium used to be the home for the Lehman Polar Bears, GlenOak Golden Eagles, Lincoln Eagles, and the Timken Trojans. Timken played their last season 2014 before a vote took place after the season in February of 2015 when the Canton School Board approved the merger of McKinley and Timken.
The stadium was built from 1937-1939 at an estimated cost of $500,000. The federal government in the form of man power, the WPA, paid for $400,000 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 presently is much more disjointed from the stadium as part of the park was used as the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and also because what is left of the park is separated from Benson Stadium by Interstate 77. Benson Stadium was constructed as a replacement for League Field, the city's previous stadium.
The stadium seats around 22,400. Five Canton area high schools have played their football seasons on this field (McKinley High School - Bulldogs, Lincoln High School - Lions, Lehman High School - Polar Bears, GlenOak High School - Golden Eagles, and Timken High School - 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. It also hosts the annual National Football League (NFL) Pro Football Hall of Fame Game at the beginning of the exhibition season.
Presently it is the home field for the McKinley Senior High School Bulldog football team and two colleges: Walsh University and Malone University. Three of the Ohio High School Athletic Association football state championship games were held at Fawcett Stadium during the first weekend of December. The other three were held at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in nearby Massillon. In 2014, the OHSAA football championships were moved back to Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
In 1997, Benson 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.
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.
It hosted the 2015 IFAF World Championship in July 2015.
- "Fawcett Stadium". Football.ballparks.com. 1999-08-09. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
- "Tom Benson donates $11M to Hall" (Press release). Pro Football Hall of Fame. November 24, 2014. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
- Patra, Kevin (November 24, 2014). "Tom Benson makes $11 million pledge to Hall of Fame". National Football League. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
- "Canton McKinley Football - Stadium and Facilities". Cantonmckinley.com. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
|Events and tenants|
|Home of the Victory Bowl
1997 – 2000
Ernest W. Spangler Stadium