When you think of Canton, Ohio, you think of the football Hall Of Fame. When you think of Cooperstown, New York, you think of the baseball Hall Of Fame. According to FC Dallas president Dan Hunt, when you think of soccer, you will soon be thinking about Frisco, Texas. Hunt has worked with U.S. Soccer to bring the National Soccer Hall Of Fame to Frisco and share the history of soccer in America.
The National Soccer Hall of Fame is being added to Toyota Stadium as part of a renovation to the facility’s south end that will include a new videoboard, additional suites, new locker room space, and more. The construction timeline puts all the new seats in place with the majority of construction done by January of 2018, when Toyota Stadium will play host to the NCAA FCS National Championship game.
“The original soccer hall of fame was in Oneonta, New York and it went out of business around 2010. I had talked to U.S. Soccer a number of times about bringing it to Frisco,” Hunt said. “I said hey, we need to get this thing back and going. About two years ago, I approached the city and said I think I can get the hall of fame to Frisco if we can build a brand new hall of fame.”
With the city interested, plans were set in motion to evaluate the budget and start designing a hall of fame museum that would be different from others.
“I wanted a different structure and wanted to build an active hall of fame into a professional sports stadium,” Hunt said. “The city was very supportive of the idea. For us to take this step and financial commitment, we redid our lease with the city. Our payments went up a bunch, including the operating costs so we had to create a financial model that was going to work. Museums don’t make a lot of money so by building it into an active stadium, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Planning for the budget wasn’t easy and caused some changes to the original plan.
“Our budget is $40 million. We went through a redesign because of the initial budget when it came back and honestly, it has been the biggest blessing,” Hunt said. “In the long-run, we’ll end up with a better building.”
He went on to explain that the original plans had received several complaints with the biggest one being that the hall of fame was going to be on the second floor where only about 600-650 seats have the best access to it. The redesign put the hall of fame on the concourse level to better serve fans.
“We feel like the flow is better now and the space can be used more. Below grade nothing changed and has only gotten better,” Hunt said. “The club on that level will be dedicated to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the story of the tournament. There will also be a classroom/theater that will serve as a press conference room on game days.”
Another challenge has been designing the actual museum space.
“It’s been interesting designing a museum because we have to consider people’s attention spans,” Hunt said. “People’s attention spans are shorter than they’ve ever been. They like the wow factor.”
That wow factor includes examining over 80,000 artifacts to find the right ones that will help best tell the story of soccer in America.
“The gamut runs from everything from a 1979 Tampa Times picture to a women’s world cup trophy,” Hunt said. “We’re sifting through the most important artifacts like women’s world cup trophies, gold cup medals, etc. Brandi Chastain and I were talking and she’s going to loan us the bra from the World Cup final against China. We’ll have artifacts from 1950 and the greatest game every played. Those are the things you’re going to see.”
Plans for the museum also include an area talking about soccer growing to teams now having their own stadiums instead of playing in other venues like football stadiums and adding virtual reality experiences.
Hunt said the team is also planning for induction ceremonies later down the line.
“We will do induction weekends where you’ll have the ceremonies just like you’d see in Canton. Hopefully we’ll try to do a small concert around that and a hall of fame game,” Hunt said. “For example say Landon (Donovan) is going in, maybe that game will be Dallas against LA. If Carli Lloyd goes in, have it be a U.S. women’s soccer game. The possibilities are definitely there.”
With all of the excitement surrounding the hall of fame, Hunt said his main goal is to help share the story of soccer and help it continue growing. His only regret is that his dad Lamar Hunt, Soccer Hall Of Fame Class of 1982, won’t be able to see it.
“He would have absolutely loved this and our chance to share the history of the game. We have 1.9 million people who come to this stadium and people need to know the story of soccer in our country. It’s been a battle for a very long time,” Hunt said. “Now you look and see where the MLS is, how other leagues are doing, and how our national teams are doing and it’s exciting. It’s a great story to tell and really important to the game. For soccer to grow, we need everything around it to grow. I think we’ll have a museum that soccer fans around the country will be proud of.”
Preliminary rendering courtesy FC Dallas.
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