Fawcett Stadium (1937 - 2015)

Article Index

1937-1939: A 15,000-seat stadium — considered the largest high school stadium in
the country — is built in Canton's West Park (now Stadium Park) at an estimated cost of $500,000. The construction was part of a public works program.

Sept. 17, 1938: Fawcett Stadium opens, according to Repository archives. A game that day between McKinley and Lehman results in a 48-6 victory by the Bulldogs
in the nearly complete stadium.

Sept. 23, 1939: "The new John A. Fawcett Stadium was formally dedicated
Saturday afternoon," The Canton Repository reported in a front-page article published Sept. 24. The McKinley Bulldogs then defeated the Lehman Polar Bears, 31-0.

1962: The first Hall of Fame Game is held at Fawcett Stadium.

September 1963: The Pro Football Hall of Fame opens in Canton. The first enshrinement is held at Fawcett Stadium.

1965: The enshrinement is moved from Fawcett Stadium to the Hall's front steps.

1971: A game from Fawcett is televised nationally for the first time, as the Hall of
Fame Game is broadcast by ABC.

1997: Fawcett Stadium undergoes a major renovation and is renamed to include the words Pro Football Hall of Fame Field.

1998: The Hall of Fame Game airs in prime time for the first time; the NFL spends $365,000 to upgrade lighting.

2002: The enshrinement is moved from the Hall's front steps back to Fawcett Stadium. A grand stage is erected to accommodate the ceremony. The Sporting
News rates Fawcett Stadium as the No. 1 high school football venue in America.

2004: A new playing surface, FieldTurf, is installed.

2009: A state-of-the-art press box is added. The $3.4 million project is funded by support from local foundations, local businesses, national businesses and state,
county and city grants.

2011: The NFL lockout causes the Hall of Fame Game to be canceled.
January 2014: Stephen Perry, then-outgoing leader of the Hall of Fame, and
Dennis Saunier, president and chief executive officer of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, announce plans to lead a fundraising campaign to rebuild the 22,364-seat stadium.

Feb. 23, 2015: Canton City Board of Education approves renaming the school district's Fawcett Stadium in honor of New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson
after Benson donated $10 million toward stadium renovations.

May 19, 2015: Hall of Fame Village planners release a financial study that targets
Benson Stadium for $80 million in upgrades, including completely rebuilt stands, lowering the field, a stage area for concerts and many more modern amenities. Project is expected to be completed by August 2017.

Sept. 10, 2015: Demolition crews begin dismantling the north-side bleachers.
Due to construction, fans at football games hosted by McKinley, Walsh University and Malone University are limited to the south-side stands and the two end zone bleachers throughout the 2015 season.

Oct. 31, 2015: McKinley renews its rivalry with the Massillon Tigers and closes
Fawcett Stadium with a 30-28 victory over Massillon in the 126th edition of the storied high school football rivalry. Following the game, crews remove the turf, northeast corner scoreboard and end zone bleachers as demolition resumes on the south side.