CANTON, OH – The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced that the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation has made a charitable gift of $2.5 million to support the museum's $27 million "Future 50" Expansion & Renovation Project.
The gift will be used to fund a new 10,000-square-foot Pro Football Research and Preservation Center. In recognition of Mr. Wilson's generous contribution, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Trustees will honor him by naming the center the "Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center."
"Ralph Wilson's outstanding contributions to pro football over many decades are legendary," stated Steve Perry, president/executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "His generous gift will greatly enhance our ability to preserve the Hall of Fame's rapidly growing collection of historic documents and artifacts."
Mr. Wilson, the founder of the Buffalo Bills and one of the founding fathers of the American Football League, is known and respected as the "conscience of the NFL" due to his well-documented efforts to put the interests of the league and the fans ahead of himself and his team. In 2009, in recognition of his many contributions to pro football, Wilson was accorded the sport's highest honor when he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Following his 2009 enshrinement, Mr. Wilson expressed his desire to contribute something to help the Hall of Fame's continued success in carrying out its mission. He also wanted his contribution to benefit current and future generations of fans. By the winter of 2010 he had made his decision on how he would do exactly that.
"Pro Football has been a major part of my life and the Pro Football Hall of Fame holds a special place in my heart since it is the institution that preserves the legacy of the sport," offered Wilson. "This gift will allow the Hall of Fame to significantly improve its ability to preserve the historic documents and artifacts of the game for the benefit of current and future generations of students, researchers, historians, the National Football League, its member clubs and our fans."
Joe Horrigan, vice president - communications/exhibits added, "the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center will not only provide much needed space for our collections, but also provide a state-of-the-art climate controlled environment that is essential to the proper preservation of the items in the museum's care."
The Center will include a research library and archives, a video conferencing lab designed to connect schools and students from around the country to the educational assets of the Hall of Fame, including live interaction with Hall of Fame members; a rare books room and a researcher's reading room.
Ground breaking for this phase of the "Future 50" Project will be held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Friday, August 5, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. EDT. Completion of the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center is scheduled for July 2012.