FRISCO, Texas -- The National Soccer Hall of Fame has announced that the first inductions in its new facility will be held in October of 2018.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber will be among the first inductees at the new home of America's soccer archives facility, which are currently being constructed on the south end of FC Dallas' Toyota Stadium as part of a $55 million development set to open next year. Garber was a member of the class of 2016, but requested that his induction be delayed until 2018 so he could be inducted in an MLS stadium.
Those inductions will be just part of a full weekend that also includes a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the original NASL, as well as a Hall of Fame game that is a competitive fixture toward the end of FC Dallas' regular season MLS schedule.
"Having an inauguration game for the weekend is a really important piece because you have a lot of people coming in," said FC Dallas president Dan Hunt. "I don't think you get the total experience without seeing a game here, so this is something we're really excited to have.
"We're also excited that Don [Garber] decided to delay his induction from 2016 to 2018. It just makes it special to be in an MLS stadium and have him go in to the Hall of Fame. It is such an honor for us. Then to crown it off with an FC Dallas game is going to really be a treat."
The weekend will begin on Saturday, October 20 with a luncheon to celebrate the 50th anniversary on NASL, in the hometown of the team that brought the NASL to the whole world. Former FC Dallas owner Lamar Hunt's soccer legacy began with the Dallas Tornados' world tour in 1967, before the inaugural NASL season. A Hall of Fame induction ceremony and a concert will follow in the evening. It's not yet decided if the inductions themselves will be held in the building or on the concert stage at Toyota Stadium.
John Harkes, of the class of 2005, sees the new Hall of Fame and the platform it can provide as something that has been long overdue in the United States, after the previous modest facility in Oneonta, New York was shut down several years ago.
"I loved what Oneonta did, it was great, but this is going to be on a much bigger scale," Harkes said. "We need this, a country of our size needs three national stadiums, which we don't have, but you also need a Hall of Fame. If you go to Arsenal or Manchester United, what's in their club? Well, there's museum in the stadium so people can get educated and connected to the game. This is only going to connect the game even more. I would love to see this in each club, where you can show the history."
The 90-cap veteran of the US national team also highlighted the emotional side to the Hall of Fame experience.
"When you're part of a Hall of Fame, you're part of a family and the history of the game, but if you don't have a home you're a little bit lost," Harkes said. "For a while it seemed like we were drifting. ... To bring this back together and have a home again is exciting. For Hall of Fame members to have somewhere to go again and belong."
The Hall of Fame will feature thousands of pieces of American soccer history, from the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup's Sir Thomas Dewar Trophy to the ball Landon Donovan struck to score against Algeria in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It will also form the trophy cabinet for the US national teams, and house interactive exhibits allowing fans to call play by play on some of the pivotal moments in US Soccer history.