Frisco, Tex., home to MLS’s FC Dallas and an expansive athletic complex in the fast-growing north Dallas suburbs, is the clear front-runner to become the site of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, multiple sources told the Insider.
American soccer has been without a permanent facility since the museum in Oneonta, N.Y., closed because of financial problems five years ago. Most of the 80,000 items and artifacts are stored in North Carolina.
The Poconos, a tourist destination in northeast Pennsylvania, also put forth a plan, but Frisco has remained the U.S. Soccer Federation’s top choice. Last year, the USSF entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Frisco.
The facility would be built adjacent to Toyota Stadium, a 20,500-seat venue that opened in 2005. The surrounding grounds feature 17 fields designed for soccer and other sporting events. U.S. Youth Soccer national headquarters are also located on the campus. Local, regional and national tournaments draw thousands of players and families annually to Frisco, which is 27 miles from both Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and downtown Dallas.
The population of Frisco has doubled in the past 10 years, to an estimated 145,000. The Dallas-Fort Worth area is home to about 7 million.
The stadium and broader facilities are owned by the city of Frisco in partnership with Hunt Sports Group (which operates FC Dallas), the county and local school district.
Financing for the project would come from HSG and the city. However, sources cautioned, details have not been finalized.
Initial plans are for a 15,000-square-foot facility that, for financial sustainability purposes, would not have daily hours. Rather, it would probably open around events at the complex and for other functions.
The Hunt family has deep ties to soccer: The late Lamar Hunt was among the founders of the North American Soccer League in the 1970s and MLS two decades later; the annual U.S. Open Cup is named after him; and he built MLS’s first soccer-specific venue, Columbus Crew Stadium, in 1999.
HSG has run three MLS clubs — Columbus, Kansas City and Dallas — but sold its interests in Columbus and K.C.
The USSF did not want to comment at this time.
Sites of other Hall of Fames …
Baseball: Cooperstown, N.Y.
Pro football: Canton, Ohio.
College football: Atlanta.
College basketball: Kansas City, Mo.
National basketball: Springfield, Mass.
U.S. hockey: Eveleth, Minn.
Horse racing: Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Golf: St. Augustine, Fla.
Tennis: Newport, R.I.
Boxing: Canastota, N.Y.
Swimming: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Figure skating: Colorado Springs.
Skiing: Ishpeming, Mich.
Wrestling: Stillwater, Okla.
Volleyball: Holyoke, Mass.