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CANTON, Ohio -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame in northeast Ohio has opened a new, two-story atrium entrance as part of its $27 million expansion project.

The first phase of the two-year project is almost finished. It includes a pro football research and preservation facility.

Joe Horrigan, the vice president of communication and exhibits, tells The Repository in Canton there's also a distance learning center that will allow the facility to connect Hall of Famers with classrooms.

The second phase of the expansion project will start after this year's enshrinement events in early August. That phase will include a new theater and renovated exhibition galleries.

The expansion is expected to be complete for the hall's 50th anniversary next year.