Pro football Hall of Fame plans $4 million upgrade

CHRIS BEAVEN

They walk through the doors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame each day with great pride.

To help ensure that pride never fades, the Hall's Stephen Perry and Joe Horrigan announced plans that include a $4 million renovation of one of its galleries.

"Our continuous improvement will be challenging," said Perry, the president and executive director of the Hall. "... We've got the team that is certainly capable of getting the job done."

Perry and Horrigan spoke this week at the season's first meeting of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club at Tozzi's on 12th. A little more than a month since welcoming the Class of 2007, the Hall is working full-speed ahead on improvements to the facility for day-to-day visitors and on the annual enshrinement ceremony.

"The Hall is an exciting and vibrant place," said Horrigan, the vice president of communications and exhibits. "It's a goal we've worked hard to achieve and a goal we work hard to sustain."

The last major update came in 2003 when the Hall of Fame Gallery was unveiled with touch-screen kiosks complimenting the bronze busts of each enshrinee.

"That's been very successful," Horrigan said. "It's so stoic, yet at the same time very interactive for visitors."

The Hall will take a similar direction when it moves and updates the Enshrinee Mementos Room, which has been unchanged since 1978. Horrigan considers it "very static," but with video and other technology, it can have a "high- energy presentation."

As part of the renovation, a new nonpermanent exhibit space will be created in the former memento room. It will allow the Hall to create temporary exhibits and build on contemporary themes.

Expect new technology to spice up that room and future enshrinements.

"When people walk into the Smithsonian, they aren't just satisfied with seeing dinosaur bones," Horrigan said. "They want to see the dinosaur move and breath fire."

PHYSICAL CHANGES

— Spending $4 million on renovations to the Enshrinee Mementos Room and the

creation of a nonpermanent exhibit space.

— Expect lots of video, audio and whatever else the Hall can use to bring

the game¹s greatest players and moments to life. The work of NFL Films will

figure prominently in allowing enshrinees to talk about their mementos and

their football heroes. ³You can hear Gene Upshaw telling you why he thinks

Bronko Nagurski is in the Hall of Fame,² Horrigan said.

OTHER CHANGES

— Starting with the Class of 2008, the minimum and maximum numbers of new

enshrinees have been increased. Each class can be as large as seven, as few

as four.

— Voting of the two senior candidates has been done along with the voting of

the 15 modern-era candidates. That too changes. The seniors will be voted on

separately first, with one, both or neither being elected. A vote will

follow on modern-era candidates with up to five getting in.

— Increasing the number on the Board of Selectors. It will be a gradual

increase, from 40 to 50. The current breakdown is one media representative

from each pro football city (New York has two because it has two teams), one

representative of the Pro Football Writers of America and seven at-large

delegates. Four more at-large selectors will be added this year and

additional six are expected to be added in the next few years. ³We want the

best possible selection process with the best possible people involved,²

Horrigan said.

— Making the similar retirement stipulation for coaches as players. In the

past, a coach could be considered for enshrinement once he retired. Now he

must be retired for five consecutive seasons, the same as a player, to be

considered for the ballot.