Portman Backs HOF Coin

ST. MARYS — An Ohio senators hopes to get approval for a coin honoring one of the state’s largest tourist attractions.

Sen. Rob Portman announced plans to introduce legislation that would authorize the U.S. mint to produce commemorative coins marking the 50th anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. The coins would not cost the taxpayers any money.

“The hall has been a huge economic development attraction for Ohio,” Portman said in a teleconference with regional media. “It attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year and contributes $30 million a year to the local economy.”

The proceeds from the coin would first cover production costs and then would go to the hall of fame. Portman said a similar coin was minted honoring the 75th anniversary of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“This is a great opportunity for us to one help increase tourism to the Canton, Ohio, area and second to hold up these hall of famers — who are terrific role models for our young people.”

Former Cincinnati Bengal Anthony Munoz joined Portman on the call. Munoz was inducted into the hall of fame in 1998 and is widely considered to be the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history.

“This is great timing,” Munoz said of the legislation. “What better year to celebrate and to have this than the 50th anniversary.”

Munoz highlighted the fact the coin will have no cost to the taxpayers as one of its selling points.

“I am honored and humbled to be a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Munoz said. “Being an Ohio resident and living just down the street from the Pro Football Hall of Fame and knowing what they do ... I do appreciate. Hopefully this will pass.”

George Veras, President and CEO of Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprise, said the coin will help highlight the programs and activities hosted at the Canton facility every year.

“This coin will help really get our education programs out there, which Anthony has been a large part of,” Veras said on the call.

“We use players in education programs around the country ... To talk about how football can be used to teach history and physical fitness. We’ve been part of the Play 60 program with the National Football League.”

Veras said the hall of fame is looking to use the proceeds from the coins to boost its programs and education efforts.

“That’s how we are going to use the proceeds,” Veras said. “To continue our education programs, getting the message out of excellence and continue to be the inspiration the hall of famers have been.”

The House approved similar legislation last year. Portman said he hopes to pass his measure in the Senate as soon as possible and sent it to the House in time to be approved by September.