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Bensons showcased at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Bensons donated $11 million to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the largest contribution by any individual in the Hall’s 51-year history

Canton, Ohio - New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson and his wife Gayle were honored at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio on Friday for their $11 million donation to the Hall.

The day started with a photo op of the Bensons and current living Hall of Famers in front of the Hall.

The Bensons attended the State of the Hall address where Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman presented them with a crystal football on behalf of the Hall.

Following the morning festivities, the Bensons ate lunch with the Hall's board members.

The event concluded with a ceremony at the site of where a statue of Tom Benson will stand outside the remodeled Pro Football Hall of Fame stadium which will be called Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

The ceremony was attended by key figures, including Pro Football Hall of Fame President & Executive Director David Baker, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and ESPN's Chris Berman among others. 

The McKinley High School marching band played "When the Saints go Marching in," which Benson danced to, as the event wraped up.

"It's my wife Gayle and I's privilege and honor to do this," Benson said. "It's a remarkable deal we have going here. We want to keep it going. This is where football started and we won't ever let it end."

The Bensons' contribution is the largest gift by any individual in the Hall's 51-year history.

Of Benson's donation, $10 million is focused on the remodeling of Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, and $1 million for the Legends Landing portion of the Village project. Legends Landing will house former NFL players who are in need of housing and health care.

The Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium will also be home to two high school football programs (McKinley High School Bulldogs and Timken High School Trojans) and two NCAA Division II football teams (Walsh University Cavaliers and Malone University Pioneers). The renovation is scheduled to begin following the enshrinement ceremony and game, and, once completed, will allow the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium to host other sports and entertainment events.

The stadium renovation is part of a $475 million Hall of Fame Village Master Plan. The village includes a Sports & Entertainment Complex, a high-end hotel and conference center, a Center of Athletic Performance & Safety, a Youth Football Center and playing fields, an Institute for Integrity & Officiating, a Coaches University, an Academy of Corporate Excellence along with thematic restaurants, retail and attractions for an NFL fan like a Family Football Experience.

Tom and Gayle Benson were honored at the Pro Football Fame on Friday, August 7, 2015. Photos by Pro Football Hall of Fame and Alex Restrepo.

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