Induction: Challenges in Canton

(May 10, 2011) Yes, Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame are facing a big challenge – rethinking the Induction Celebration or, as the Museum itself terms it, Enshrinement Weekend. I am sure it has been an on-going discussion since the first rumors of a potential lockout of the players – how do we structure the weekend if there is no game? It’s a challenge of mammoth proportions for both the Hall of Fame and the city. How to reorganize an event that has been well organized and received – a highly successful celebration that funds important programs at the Museum and provides the city with revenue?

While the Enshrinement Weekend website still highlights the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game between the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears, we all know that behind the scenes a full alternative plan has been developed. We, the city, and the Hall of Fame are going to learn how important the game is to building the attendance and the buzz for the entire weekend. I am sure there are many concerned faces throughout the city and state.

The alternative plan is substantially complete by now and many of the key people in the alternate plan have their marching orders. When to announce the change? How to announce the change? These are tough questions for the executives in Canton.

What the Pro Football Hall of Fame will do has the potential to be instructive for everyone. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum faced the same challenge less than a decade ago when Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association were unable to make the schedule work any longer and the mid-season exhibition in Cooperstown was discontinued. Over time the Cooperstown museum has adjusted to the loss of the game by instituting the Hall of Fame Classic, a non-Major League Baseball exhibition game though not scheduled on Induction Weekend, and adding or changing various Induction Weekend programming elements. This year there’s a new event on the schedule, the Hall of Fame Awards Presentation on Doubleday Field that will honor the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum annual award winners, i.e. the Ford Frick and other media awards.

Okay, so what’s my point? Even the biggest Halls of Fame have challenges and concerns and need to re-evaluate their induction weekends/ceremonies/events on a regular basis. Are you thinking about what alternatives there are to your traditional induction program? How might outside forces cause you to change? Have you sketched alternative scenarios for the event? Always good to have other event models in the hopper, just in case!

Jack Huckel, Founder & Principal of J.R. Huckel & Associates, offers election and induction consulting services to Halls of Fame. Jack served the National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum as Director of Museum and Archives for 9-1/2 years after more than 10 years as a volunteer. More information is available at the firm’s web site. He can be reached at or 518/852-3033.


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One Response to “Induction: Challenges in Canton”

  1. Jack says:

    I received a call from WKSU on May 24 regarding this issue. We discussed the impact and options for the Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. News story to be posted shortly.

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