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Canton, Ohio has long been and still is a hotbed of passionate football enthusiasts. As the league kicks off the next 100 years of the NFL, Canton celebrates its role in football history.

Canton, Ohio Football Road Trip

The owners of eleven football franchises attended a meeting in Canton, Ohio on September 17, 1920, to formalize a league, the American Professional Football Association. The meeting was hosted by Canton Bulldogs owner Ralph Hay in the showroom of his Hupmobile dealership. In the image above, artwork by Dirk Rozich memorializes the moment of the founding of the NFL, celebrating its centennial anniversary this year.

Jim Thorpe, a Native American, Olympic gold medalist, and Canton Bulldogs team member known as the 'world's greatest athlete' in his era, was tapped to lead the league as president. Two years later, at an owners meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, the two-year-old league created a constitution that officially changed its name to the National Football League.


Centennial Plaza: 

300 Market Ave. N, Canton, Ohio 44702

This September the city of Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame will celebrate the kick-off to the next century of football, unveiling the new Centennial Plaza in the heart of downtown Canton.  The new downtown landmark features a cafe and eleven NFL 100 Year Player Recognition Steles, recognizing all NFL players who were on an active roster over the first 100 years of the National Football League.

Pro Football Hall of Fame:

2121 George Halas Dr. NW, Canton, Ohio 44708 | 330.456.8207

A visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame unfolds the history of The Game and is the first stop on many fans' bucket lists. Over 80,000 sq. ft. of interactive, hands-on, and multimedia exhibits delight and inspire visitors.  You do not have to be a football fanatic to enjoy the stories, moments and lessons shared.

The Birth of the NFL: 

201 Cleveland Ave. SW, Canton, Ohio 44702

A sculpture in downtown Canton marks the site where the agreement was signed to form the American Professional Football Association, later renamed the National Football League.  The piece is one in a series of public art called The Eleven.

The Eleven: 

Downtown Canton | Click here to print a downtown Canton walking map

The Eleven is a walkable series of public art throughout downtown Canton commemorating some of the greatest moments in the first 100 years of professional football.

  • 1920 - Birth of the NFL (201 Cleveland Ave. SW)

  • 1925 - Red Grange Turns Pro (624 N Market Ave.)

  • 1936 - The NFL Draft (228 4th St. NW)

  • 1946 - Reintegration of Pro Football (238 Cleveland Ave. NW)

  • 1966 - AFL/NFL Merger (420 3rd St. NW)

  • 1968 - Super Bowl III (1001 Market Ave. N)

  • 1970 - Monday Night Football (101 Central Plaza S)

    To Be Completed Soon: 1958 - 1958 Championship Game, 1959 - Formation of American Football League, 1960 - Pete Rozelle Named Commissioner, 1967 - The Ice Bowl

The Centennial:

218 Cleveland Ave. SW, Canton, Ohio 44702

See the Dirk Rozich artwork that recreates the moment of the founding of the National Football League, displayed on City Hall in downtown Canton.

The Founders:  

537 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton, Ohio 44702

See the newest Dirk Rozich mural currently in progress at the downtown Canton Julz location.  The mural commemorates Canton's founding fathers of football, Jim Thorpe and Ralph Hay

Our Rivalry:

500 Cleveland Ave. NW, Canton, Ohio 44702

The Massillon Tigers were among eleven franchises in attendance at the founding meeting of the NFL on September 17, 1920, in Canton.  However, among the first orders of business was Massillon's withdrawal from professional football for the 1920 season. The team never joined the NFL.
The mural 'Our Rivalry' located in downtown Canton commemorates the longstanding football rivalry between Canton and Massillon, Ohio - a mere 11 miles apart. The rivalry began at the professional football level as early as 1894, fueled by a series of tightly contested championship games through 1919. The football rivalry between the cities lives on today through one of high school football's longest-running rivalry games, Canton McKinley High School Bulldogs vs. Massillon Washington High School Tigers.

Paul Brown Museum & Massillon Tigers: 

121 Lincoln Way E, Massillon, Ohio 44646 | 330.833.4061

Massillon, Ohio passionately celebrates its favorite son Paul Brown.  Paul Brown grew up in Massillon, Ohio and embarked on his Pro Football Hall of Fame Gold Jacket journey as an acclaimed coach at Massillon Washington High School. The Paul Brown Museum at MassMu celebrates and archives his legacy as one of the most prolific coaches and contributors to advancing the game of football.

McKinley Presidential Library & Museum:

800 McKinley Monument Dr. NW, Canton, Ohio | 330.455.7043

Discover more about the formative years of professional football and the historical setting in which Canton began its journey to becoming the Pro Football Hall of Fame city, with a visit to the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum.   Managed and operated by the Stark County Historical Society, the museum is not only dedicated to commemorating our 25th President, but also the trials, tributes, and tales of Stark County's past.  History buffs and families will both enjoy their time at this kid-friendly museum with its life-sized, replica Street of Shops and Discover World science center. 

Bender's Tavern:  

137 Court Ave. SW, Canton, Ohio 44702 | 330.453.8425

Canton's oldest restaurant Bender's Tavern was established in 1902.  It's known not only for its delicious fare, including seafood fresh from Foley Fish in Boston but also for its famous, past frequenters rumored to include Jim Thorpe.

Canton Brewing Company:

120 3rd St. NW, Canton, Ohio 44702 | 330.409.0343

​The original Canton Brewing Company was founded in 1883.  Their Cascade Beer was a sponsor of Ralphy Hay's Canton Bulldogs and presumably the beer of choice at the founding meeting.  Today, Cascade Pale Ale is one of the core brews always on tap at the brewery.
(DUE TO COVID-19, THIS LOCATION IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED.)

Royal Docks Brewing Co.:  

Taproom + KItchen, 7162 Fulton Dr. NW, Canton, Ohio 44718 | 330.353.9103

Foeder House + Kitchen, 2668 Easton St. NE, Canton, Ohio, 44721 | 330.353.9103


Enjoy the Hall of Fame edition Leatherhead IPA at Royal Docks Brewing Co. Taproom + Kitchen in Jackson Township or Foeder House + Kitchen in Plain Township.  Inspired by the American IPA’s of the pre-Prohibition era, this beer intends to be a stiff reminder of what it meant to be a Gridiron Ace. 

Gervasi Vineyard:

1700 55th St. NE, Canton, Ohio 44721 | 330.497.1000

The Pro Football Hall of Fame and Gervasi Vineyard have partnered to produce co-branded wines featuring the Hall's iconic logo.  To date, there are three Limited Edition Hall of Fame Wines in the collection bearing names that reflect core values of The Game as identified by the Pro Football Hall of Fame; "Commitment", "Integrity", and "Excellence".​

The Troll Hole of Fame: 

228 E. Main St., Alliance, Ohio 44601 | 330.596.1157

The final stop on the Hall of Fame City's Football Road Trip may be an unexpected twist.  Nearby in Alliance, Ohio,  the one and only Troll Hole is home to the world's largest collection of troll dolls.  The collection features everything from ancient international folklore and figurines to the modern cinematic Dreamworks Trolls franchise.  What do trolls have to do with football?  One of the newest exhibits celebrates The Game with the Troll Hole Football Hall of Fame, a troll-sized replication of Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, home of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony and NFL/Hall of Fame Game. The stadium fits over 1,000 trolls and fans are invited to submit a troll doll customized to reflect their team's colors to fill the stadium.

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