Jim Porter, new president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, sees himself as part of the team

Baker’s retirement and Porter’s promotion were announced in the same press release on Oct. 16, but both moves had been in the works for some time, Porter said. Baker, 68, will continue to represent Hall at Ring of Excellence ceremonies for the remainder of the NFL season and will spend the rest of the time on domestic, family and business projects in California and Nevada.

Porter, 57, was a logical choice to take on the role of chairman, who oversees the museum’s day-to-day business operations. The Cantonese native has extensive management experience – he was CEO and publisher of GateHouse Ohio Media from 2013-2020, which included three dailies and a monthly magazine – and a close connection to Hall, having served as chief marketing and museum communications. officer since April 2020. Previously, he served on the Hall of Fame board of directors and chaired the host committee of the Hall of Fame’s centennial celebration, which was slated for summer 2020 but postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Jim was very, very qualified,” said Dennis Nash, executive chairman of the Hall of Fame board. “He came from a large organization and if you’ve spent time in an organization like that, you manage advertisers, you manage business executives, you deal with unions and workers – there’s a lot of different things, moving parts. “

Porter also understands the Hall’s importance to Canton and Stark County, Nash said. The Hall doesn’t publish annual attendance figures, but a 2018 New York Times article put it at 225,000 per year. In the first week of November, it drew visitors from 49 of the 50 states – the outlier was Montana – but most of its activity came from Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Hall wants to do more to attract local fans who haven’t been in years, which is why it recently launched its “Best Football Day Ever” series, where fans can watch an NFL game indoors. from its conference center and meet a Hall of Famer. Game 1 – the Week 9 game between the Browns and the Bengals – drew 400 people, pretty much all from Stark and Summit County.

“I want the community to know that the Pro Football Hall of Fame cares about them,” Porter said.

The museum has 501 (c) (3) status as a nonprofit – “We’re in good shape and we’re financially responsible,” Porter said – and its success doesn’t just depend on the sale of local tickets, but also community support through partnerships and volunteering for the consecration. It requires someone who has connections to community leaders, which is one of the main reasons Porter got the job.

“I don’t think we even wavered about this nomination,” Nash said.

Baker’s executive director title is a different animal. The Hall of Fame wants to continue to elevate its platform and grow its national presence, which may require a Baker-esque leader to raise funds and bring in more national sponsorships. That hiring, if it does occur, would likely take place after this year’s class was selected in early February, Nash said.

“The job has changed completely from the time David arrived until he retired,” said Nash, who is also president and co-founder of Canton-based Kenan Advantage Group. “We’re always talking about the 32 NFL franchises and it’s kind of a 33rd franchise. Only there’s absolutely no downside. Everyone here has achieved excellence. It’s all the big names that ever have. played the game. David did a great job raising awareness of this.

“I imagine this (executive director) is going to be a job of choice. A lot of people would be interested in this position.”

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