Where should we put the AFL Hall of Fame?
A few months ago, fellow ArenaFan columnist Dan Ryan wrote an article advocating that the Arena Football League Hall of Fame should actually have a building somewhere. I totally agree. But where should it be located? Allow me to offer a few suggestions;
When you think of the Arena Football League, several cities immediately come to mind; Tampa, Orlando, Chicago, Des Moines and Phoenix.
The Tampa Bay Storm has been around since 1991 and have won five AFL titles.
Orlando has also had a team since 1991. The Orlando Predators have won two titles.
Des Moines gave us quarterback Kurt Warner and the Iowa Barnstormers. From 1995-2000 and 2010 to the present. There was also a Barnstormers team in the AFL developmental league, arenafootball2, in 2001 and from 2008-2009.
Phoenix has been home to the Arizona Rattlers since 1992. They have won four ArenaBowl titles including the last two.
AFL teams have come and gone over the years, so if a HOF is built in an AFL city today, the team may not be there a few years from now. So a current AFL city may not be the best choice.
The NFL does not have that sort of problem because their HOF is in Canton, Ohio. There was an Arena Football League display there a few years ago, but since the Hall went through major renovations last year, the display is nowhere to be found. Hey, former AFL commissioner David Baker (who is now the president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame) let’s get that corrected!
Could Canton support another football hall of fame? Probably not. But how about this? Why not place the AFL HOF in a neutral city like say, Canton….Michigan! I’ll bet the Chamber of Commerce in the small Michigan town west of Detroit, would bend over backwards to roll out the welcome mat for the AFL! After all, the state of Michigan has had three AFL teams over the years; the Detroit Drive (1988-1993) the Detroit Fury (2001-2004) and the Grand Rapids Rampage (1998-2009). The Drive went to six straight ArenaBowls, winning four of them, and Grand Rapids hosted and won an ArenaBowl in 2001.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame also has a traveling exhibit this summer and I recall the College Football Hall of Fame having one as well several years ago. The AFL could have something similar as well. It could travel from city to city throughout the season and could be set up in the parking lot at an arena where an AFL game is being played. I think fans would flock to see it. It could also travel to college and NFL games after the AFL season is over and spread the word about the AFL to even more rabid football fans.
The current “virtual” Hall of Fame that can be found on arenafootball.com, is just… OK. A few pictures and a list of players, coaches and others having been inducted since the inaugural Class of 1998 simply leaves me wanting much, much more.
I have been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio and the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana on multiple occasions. (The College HOF was closed in 2012 and will reopen this fall in Atlanta, GA) Heck, I have even been to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton, Ontario a couple of times. They are all great. I learned a lot at each one and had a great time visiting each of them along with my kids.
Fans want to see jerseys, portraits, helmets, shoes, footballs, team memorabilia and most of all, video highlights of the inductees.
For my money, the most logical place to put the AFL HOF would be in Las Vegas. They have the money to support it and I’m sure several casinos would be open to the idea of hosting it near their Sports Book betting area.
Las Vegas has a long history with the AFL. They have had a couple of teams over the years, the Las Vegas Sting in 1994 and 1995, and the Las Vegas Gladiators from 2003-2007. The city also hosted a pair of ArenaBowl championship games in 2005 and 2006. The af2 Arena Cup championship game was also played there in 2009.
Millions of people visit Las Vegas every year and an AFL HOF there would be yet another destination for football fans to visit while in town.
So let the campaign begin for a real Hall of Fame for the Arena Football League. Whether it’s in Las Vegas or some other city, chances are I will go and visit it. To paraphrase the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”