From the moment Rutgers and Princeton battled on that field back in November 1869, college football has been America’s most storied and cherished sport. One-hundred forty-five years later, college football will finally have a Hall of Fame worthy of its history.
The original College Football Hall of Fame opened in the Cincinnati area in 1978, and then moved to South Bend in 1995. After realizing that – unlike the baseball and pro football halls of fame – the College Football Hall of Fame isn’t the mecca that fans will pilgrimage to; the Hall had to surround itself around major events in which people were already attending. So, in 2009, the National Football Foundation announced it would move to downtown Atlanta.
Now, half a decade later, it’s finally happening.
The Hall announced Thursday it would be open for business on August 23, five days before Boise State and Ole Miss open their respective seasons at the nearby Georgia Dome. The downtown location is crucial. Adjacent to the Georgia World Congress Center, the new World of Coke, Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, Phillips Arena as well as the Georgia Dome, the Hall figures to attracted fans in town for the Chick-fil-A College Kickoff games (West Virginia and Alabama will meet two days after Broncos-Rebels), the SEC Championship, the Peach Bowl, Falcons games, Georgia State games, and all the additional event the Falcons’ new stadium attracts after its 2017 opening.
The new Hall won’t just be a celebration of Hall of Fame players and coaches, but a celebration of the entire game. A fully interactive experience, it will have features like a life-size map with a searchable index that highlights each school that has a Hall of Famer, a wall of helmets representing every football-playing school in America, a 45-yard field and 30,000 square feet of exhibit space.
As someone who worked (in a very, very small capacity) on the Hall project for two years before I joined the Scoop, I can personally test that it’s going to be well worth a visit, and probably three or four. I can’t wait to go myself the next time I’m in Atlanta.
Photos courtesy of the Atlanta Business Chroncile