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Pro Football Hall of Fame asking for tax help from Stark County for expansion project

The proposal would give the Hall of Fame roughly $15 million in taxpayer money over 30 years.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is asking for a share of Stark County’s bed tax to help with its expansion plan and construction of its Village. 

The lodging tax in Stark County stands at 6 percent. The HOF is asking for about one percent, or $500,000 annually  for 30 years, as the HOF moves forward with its nearly billion expansion project.

It was an expansion plan that started back in 2015 with the announcement that the Hall of Fame’s  Stadium would be getting a makeover and new yout fields would be built nearby. Four years later, the HOF is in the beginning of its second phase to construct a new hotel, retail space and its Center for Excellence. Over time, the project’s price tag has inched closer to nearly a billion dollars for the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village. 

About $230 million of the $900 million project is completed, with more work planned ahead.

The HOF made a request to VisitCanton and the Stark County Commissioners for one percent of the county’s lodging tax. 

"There’s been a request to commit up to $500,000 a year for 30 years for different programming and marketing at the Pro Football Hall of Fame," VisitCanton President Allyson Bussey told WKYC.

That would equal about $15 million over the 30-year timeframe. But the request isn’t a surprise to Bussey. After all, the visitor’s bureau is focused on ways to encourage and grow tourism in the area. 

"The more people come here, the more the tax grows, the stronger the economy is here in Stark County," Bussey said. "In fact it’s a $1.8 billion business here annually in Stark County."

Similar investments have been made using the lodging tax. One percent of it was also given to ArtsInStark for grants to promote arts and culture programming. The funds was able to bring programs like the Music Block to bring live music to downtown Canton. 

"We had over 35-thousand guests come through the music block last year."

VisitCanton and Stark County Commissioners will take a look at the HOF’s long-term request. It could take weeks or months for a final decision. 

As for the completion of the entire Village project, there’s no set date although the project is still in motion with former Disney Executive Mike Crawford leading the efforts. The HOF is preparing for its centennial celebration scheduled to take place in 2020.