In the moments before the start of the press conference to announce the relocation of the National Soccer Hall of Fame (NSHOF) to FC Dallas’ Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, master of ceremonies Hank Steinbrecher leaned in to FC Dallas CEO Clark Hunt, Jr. and said, “Thank you so much for doing this.”
In his formal introductory remarks, former U.S. Soccer Secretary General and a Hall of Famer in his own right, Steinbrecher added, “This is a milestone in American soccer history. I believe that only the Hunt family and FC Dallas could’ve pulled this off.”
Dan Hunt, President of FC Dallas, then elaborated on the plans to relocate the NSHOF to Frisco, saying his family is committed to “sharing the story of soccer in America with the general public” because “our beautiful game deserves it.”
Clark Hunt, club chairman of FC Dallas, said he envisions the NSHOF becoming “a bucket list destination for soccer fans all over the world.”
The project, which will commence after the Olympic Qualifying Tournament for the U.S. Women’s National Team in February 2016, will be finished for a December 2017 “soft opening.”
The highlights of the new 100,000 square foot building at Toyota Stadium’s South End include:
- NSHOF (on second level) with 24,000 square feet of exhibition space
- annual home to NSHOF Induction Ceremonies
- two new 100-person locker-rooms
- new private club for 1,800 members
- new concourse with FC Dallas team store to be open 350 days a year
A short video titled “Uncle Lamar’s Vision of Soccer in America” detailed Lamar Hunt’s commitment to soccer in the United States, from his introduction to the global game at the 1966 World Cup in England to the founding of the Dallas Tornado of the North American Soccer League, and from his pioneering role in Major League Soccer to the construction of the FC Dallas complex in Frisco in 2005.
Dan Flynn, current Secretary General of U.S. Soccer, then took to the podium to discuss U.S. Soccer’s appreciation of the Hunt Family and FC Dallas for securing a permanent home for the NSHOF. He said, “it was a dark day when we had to make the decision on Oneonta [location of previous NSHOF established in 1979 and shuttered in 2010].”
Local officials, including the school superintendent and mayor, were not all that interested in soccer-related issues. The superintendent focused on how the multi-use facility would grow as a high school football facility, and the Frisco mayor indicated that needed improvements were being made with the FCS national championship football in mind.
At the press conference’s conclusion Hunt, Jr. spoke about his father.
“We feel blessed that his legacy and the legacies of so many legends in the beautiful game will make their home at Toyota Stadium,” he said. “When my father founded the Dallas Tornado of the North American Soccer League in the late 1960s, the discussion of soccer in the country focused on whether it would survive. Today, the only question is, ‘How big will it become?’”
Somewhat disappointing for the Society of American Soccer History, there was little discussion of the American soccer past.
Dan Hunt stated at one point, “We have a great story to tell. We want to share the game, where it’s been and where it’s going.” He mentioned that artifacts from the NSHOF collection would be on display in the exhibition space, but there was no talk of how the countless documents and artifacts from the Hall, now in temporary storage at Eurosport’s North Carolina warehouse, would make their way to their new home. Not to mention, how the historical community might be able to access them, curate them, and display them.
An article at US Soccer provided further details about what would be exhibited at the Hall. “The museum will be home to U.S. Soccer hardware, including the Women’s World Cup, Gold Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophies, as well as Olympic medals and memorabilia from the historic U.S. win over England in the 1950 World Cup, among other memorabilia and trophies.” But details on the Hall as a research facility were again absent.
The Hunt Family, FC Dallas, and U.S. Soccer are “thinking big” about the annual hall of fame induction ceremonies, though. Ideally, the ceremonies would take place over the course of a weekend, Flynn said, and that a national team game could be played in conjunction. In the future there may well be two induction ceremonies on two separate weekends, one for the women and the other for the men.
The Society can play an important role in helping the Hunts, FC Dallas, and U.S. Soccer shape what was called “a bucket-list destination for soccer fans from all over the world” by helping these organizations tell the great story that is the history of soccer in the United States.
In particular, how to care for the collection that now sits in North Carolina and best present it to future generations interested in the long history of the game here.
For more on the $39 million Toyota Stadium project, click here.