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New president takes over the Pro Football Hall of Fame

As David Baker moves into retirement, Stark County native Jim Porter steps in to lead the hall into the future

CANTON, Ohio — There's a new man in charge down at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

After David Baker announced his retirement several days ago, Jim Porter moves up to run the Canton landmark.

“Three years ago, I was asked to be on the board,” says Jim Porter, incoming president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “A Canton kid who loves the Hall of Fame, I teared up at that point, so you can imagine the emotions that were going through when I was asked to take over.”

It was a call Porter had dreamt about his whole life. A Stark County native, born and raised, Porter spent 33 years in the newspaper business, but he’s had a passion for football for even longer.

“It started with the hall and the events around the hall,” says Porter. “Then once you’re around it, it’s a little bit contagious.”

Porter grew up just about six miles from the Pro Football Hall of Fame and remembers being a young kid sitting on the wall to watch the festivities. He never imagined that one day, he’d be the one to run the whole thing.

Porter says, “I was a pretty creative kid, but I’m not so sure that I could get my mind all the way up to being the person to help the Hall of Fame move forward.”

Porter takes over during a period of transition. Although separate entities, the hall works hand in hand with the Hall of Fame Resort and Entertainment Company, which is in the middle of a massive expansion.

“We’re creating a destination, predominately around the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” says Michael Crawford, president and CEO of the Hall of Fame Resort and Entertainment Company.

They just finished the Constellation Center for Excellence, broke ground on the retail promenade, and plan to finish the sports complex by the end of the year. However, they already have eyes on the future.

“Phase 2 will be complete in 2023 and we already have phase 3 on the drawing board,” says Crawford.

While he couldn’t say too much about the things on that drawing board, he did offer a small glimpse of things being discussed.

Crawford says, “If you’re tracking what’s going on with sports betting in Ohio, we’re tracking it too.”

As for Porter, he says he won’t be the one filling David baker’s gloves when it comes to knocking on doors.

“Not being in the limelight, that’s kind of how I like it,” says Porter.

However, he is hoping to fill his shoes as a group. He’s planning to sit down with all 70 plus employees of the hall for feedback and ideas, but while he says the future is very important, the main focus of this hall is still on the past.

“Honor of the heroes of the game and preserve its history, that’s what we do inside the hall,” says Porter. “If I keep those two things in mind, and every decision we make is based on those two things, we’re going to be alright.”

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