When the National Soccer Hall of Fame opens in Frisco October 20, visitors can expect more than just a collection of memorabilia. While the facility will boast more than 400 artifacts related to United States soccer, the bigger draw may be its vast array of interactive multimedia attractions.
“When I came here, I kept hearing the word ‘museum, museum, museum,’” National Hall of Fame Executive Director Djorn Buchholz said. “As we started diving into the project, we began turning it into more of an experience.”
Visitors entering from the Main Street side will be asked to take a photo and answer a few soccer related questions like favorite team, hometown and fan level. As they continue through the Hall of Fame, facial recognition software will tailor certain displays to subjects that likely match their interests. Other attractions will utilize gesture technology, allowing participants to practice soccer techniques like heading, juggling and shooting. There will also be a virtual reality goalkeeper experience featuring tips from former U.S. National team goalkeepers Tim Howard and Briana Scurry.
Those wanting to test their soccer knowledge can play trivia (at kiosks or on their smartphones) against other patrons. Green screen technology will allow visitors to take virtual pictures with favorite players, and a scarf-creating station will put custom fashion at their fingertips.
Of course there will still be plenty of room for recognizing the titans of American soccer. Ample space has been set aside for the individual hall inductees and Major League Soccer history. A Celebration Champions Wall will honor all current male and female professional and collegiate team champions, and many of the nation’s most prestigious trophies, including the Gold Cup and Woman’s World Cup, will be on display. A full wall will also be dedicated to the U.S. Women’s National Team
“The top of it says ‘Best Team in the World’ because we can back that up,” Djorn said.
The National Soccer Hall of Fame was previously located in Oneonta, N.Y. It closed in 2010 due to financial troubles. Three years later, the FC Dallas owners, brothers Clark and Dan Hunt, began efforts to move it to North Texas. According to Bjorn, the goal for the new location is to create a constantly evolving experience that will make fans want to visit multiple times.
The new facility is located in the South end of Toyota Stadium in Frisco, and will be open during FC Dallas games as well as during high school games, the FCS Football Championship and other events. Hall admission will likely be in the $12- $15 range. Djorn estimates that it will take the average visitor 60-90 minutes to tour the hall, making it an idea place to take a break on game days.
“We wanted to create an experience that you didn’t have to dedicate an entire afternoon to,” he said. “We wanted to make sure the experience was clear and concise.”
The Hall of Fame construction will also enhance the FC Dallas game day experience. Two levels of seats outside the hall have been opened. Ticket holders there enjoy exclusive access to the new Open Club, a bar honoring the 100-year history of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Windows in the newly constructed club will allow patrons to see players entering the pitch from the new locker rooms, and conducting postgame interviews in the new media room.
Construction will continue at a breakneck pace over the next couple of months as crews work to complete the finishing touches. Grand opening weekend on October 20-21 will coincide with an FC Dallas post-game concert by Imagine Dragons and a ceremony featuring a number of the Hall of Fame inductees.
Djorn, who’s been professionally involved with soccer for 17 years, says that he can’t wait to see how all of the Hall of Famers react to their new digs after being without a home for eight years.
“To have them walk in and hopefully say ‘Wow.’ That’s going to be the most rewarding part for me,” he said. “To work on a project like this for them – it’s a one of a kind job.”National Soccer Hall of Fame >