Canton’s perspective changed with two developments: a transition in the hall’s presidency in 2014, and an unscheduled visit by a California-based builder who is active in redeveloping Midwest cities. In January 2014, three days after he took office as the Hall of Fame’s president and chief executive, David Baker met Stuart Lichter, the president and founder of the Industrial Realty Group. Among Mr. Lichter’s Ohio developments is East End, in neighboring Akron, which includes a 639,000-square-foot, seven-story, $160 million headquarters for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
Mr. Lichter pitched Mr. Baker on a big idea: an N.F.L. theme park.
“I said, football is unique,” Mr. Lichter recalled. “It is the biggest sport in the country. You have the Hall of Fame here. What would happen if we created a permanent N.F.L.-like experience here?”
Mr. Lichter wanted to expand the Hall of Fame with amenities like a youth field complex, a hotel, retail shops, a conference center and entertainment. “Wouldn’t that be a cool thing?” he said. “It would be a place where all the football fans in the country can go 365 days a year.”
Mr. Baker, a former mayor of Irvine, Calif., and a former team owner and commissioner of the Arena Football League, liked what he heard. He is also the managing partner for Union Village, a $1.2 billion, 170-acre integrated senior care community under construction in Henderson, Nev., so he added the research, education and long-term care elements of Union Village to the project.
The ambitious project is in a new category of sports-focused, mixed-use developments that are appearing around the country. One notable example is the 75-acre Arena District in Columbus, Ohio, constructed around a National Hockey League arena that includes 300,000 square feet of retail space, 1.5 million square feet of commercial space and 800 residential apartments.
The concept has been successful elsewhere, too. The $1 billion mixed-use Downtown Commons in Sacramento, Calif., includes a National Basketball Association arena that opened last year. The $1.5 billion, 91-acre Ford Center at the Star is a mixed-use development in Frisco, Tex., that incorporates the headquarters and practice facility for the Dallas Cowboys. The City of Champions, a $3.8 billion, 298-acre mixed-use development is under construction in Inglewood, Calif., includes a new N.F.L. stadium, which will be shared by the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers.
Last year, Mr. Baker and his staff persuaded Johnson Controls, the international industrial technology company, to pay more than $100 million for naming rights. With the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village, the Hall of Fame’s campus will double to 200 acres and include a number of features that are consistent with other sports-focused mixed-use projects.
The $155 million Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, completed this month, holds 23,000 people and has an 80,000-square-foot skydeck and suites. Construction started this year on a $115 million, 243-room hotel that encompasses a 25,000-square-foot conference center and 65,600 square feet of retail space. Four of eight state-of-the-art playing fields are finished in the National Youth Football and Sports Complex.
A $58 million Hall of Fame Promenade, a $38 million Center for Excellence and a $77 million Performance Center will start construction soon. The promenade consists of 50,500 square feet of retail space plus 68 residential units. The Performance Center, which will be used for conventions and concerts, converts to a 5,500-seat indoor football arena and has an outdoor practice field.
“This is a campus that has so many different kinds of buildings,” said Kim Metcalf-Kupres, the chief marketing officer at Johnson Controls and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame board. “It gives us an immersive customer experience.”
The Hall of Fame and Industrial Realty Group also are adding several novel entertainment, research and health dimensions to the village. For instance, the $182 million Hall of Fame Experience, a 240,000-square-foot building attached to a water park, uses advanced video, audio and digital technology to envelop visitors in holographic sight and sound as a quarterback or running back on the field. Johnson Controls and Immersive Artistry, an entertainment company based in Santa Monica, Calif., are providing much of the technology.
Another distinctive facet is the $35 million Player Care Center, a 26,000-square-foot surgical center with a 20-room behavioral sciences and treatment unit. The center also will include Legends Landing, a 144-bed independent, assisted-living and memory-care facility. And the Center for Excellence will combine 155,000 square feet of office space with 4,200 square feet of retail space.
Mr. Baker said that he expected that the medical facilities and the Center for Excellence would become the focus of education and research to study rule changes, new equipment and game techniques that improve the safety of football, and to invent new practices for responding to injuries.
“We know it’s more challenging,” Mr. Baker said. “There is more concern about the game. We want to address that here.”
He added that the project would try to address the character and the values of the game.
“When you huddle up and carry the ball, it doesn’t matter what color you are or how much money your parents have or where you are from,” he said. “It’s the only game where every teammate matters on every play. That’s what we’re building here.”
Under a separate contract worth $20 million or more, Johnson Controls is tying together all of the project’s energy, communications, electrical, security and digital infrastructure in a network that it calls a “smart city.”
“It’s a living laboratory that shows our customers what all this technology means for them,” Ms. Metcalf-Kupres said.
One of the project’s potential impediments was land acquisition. Doubling the size of the hall’s campus required purchasing and demolishing roughly 135 homes along the western boundary that were within the jurisdiction of neighboring Plain Township, a bedroom community of 48,000 residents.
Mr. Baker and his staff helped to negotiate agreements that enabled the City of Canton to annex each parcel after demolition, but also allowed the township to continue receiving property tax revenues that gradually diminish over 12 years.
Mr. Baker also organized regular informational meetings and listening sessions with residents, and authorized payments for homes that were 30 percent to 40 percent above market value, according to Scott Haws, the chairman of the Plain Township Board of Trustees.
“There was no groundswell against the project,” Mr. Haws said. “People here understand what a big deal this is for our community. Values for property outside the village footprint are rising. In the grand scheme of things, it has gone relatively well.”
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