|Owner||Canton City School District|
|Surface||FieldTurf (formerly grass, later AstroTurf)|
|Tenants|| Canton McKinley High School Bulldogs (1924-present)|
Timken High School Trojans
Victory Bowl (NCCAA) 1997-2000
Pro Football Hall of Fame Game (NFL)
Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium (formerly Fawcett Stadium) is a football stadium in Canton, Ohio. The stadium was officially dedicated in 1938. Fawcett Stadium is named for John A. Fawcett. Mr. Fawcett was a former member of the Canton Board of Education and a well-known athlete. He died of pneumonia at the age of 44, a few years before the stadium was built.
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 Fawcett Stadium by Interstate 77. Fawcett Stadium was constructed as a replacement for League Field, the city's previous stadium.
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."
The stadium seats around 22,400. Five Canton 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 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 the Timken Senior High School Trojans football team, and two colleges: the Malone Pioneers and the Walsh Cavaliers. Three of the Ohio High School Athletic Association football state championship games are held at Fawcett Stadium during the first weekend of December. The other three are held at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in nearby Massillon.
In 1997, Fawcett 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 stadium was also renamed to include the words Pro Football Hall of Fame Field.
From 1997 to 2000, Fawcett Stadium was the home of the Victory Bowl, the NCCAA championship football game. In 2002, the Sporting News rated Fawcett Stadium the number one high school football venue in America.
From June 27 to July 5, 2009 Fawcett Stadium hosted the inaugural IFAF Junior World Championship of American Football. The tournament gathered eight best national teams from around the world.