For the past three decades, the city of Canton has endeavored to provide for its citizens a central public space that would be both iconic in its design and transformative in its approach as to encourage economic development, strengthen the downtown core and enhance surrounding neighborhoods.
Beginning in 2016, with the recommendation by the City’s Comprehensive Plan calling for a public green space downtown – The Canton Centennial Plaza project is that space for the city, establishing a central green space for the community and a national destination for visitors.
The formalized programming and design phase began in earnest in 2018, and by May 2019, Canton City Council formally approved funding for the project. This action capped several years of design, fundraising and discussions related to creating a way of linking downtown Canton with the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Hall of Fame Village powered by Johnson Controls campus.
Ground was officially broken for Centennial Plaza on Aug. 28, 2019.
Centennial Plaza occupies the city block formerly known as Market Square, on land that had been historically occupied by the Kresge department store; however, the business closed, and after years of neglect the existing structure was demolished in 2009 and the site reverted to a green space and utilized for community events. This location, is only a short walk from the site of the former Hupmobile dealership where Ralph Hay, who also owned the Canton Bulldogs, had organized a meeting with other owners of professional football teams.
Held Sept. 17, 1920, that meeting became the birthdate of the American Professional Football Association, rechristened as the National Football League two years later, and it’s why the NFL considers Sept. 17, 2020 as its official centennial.