Cities like Cooperstown, New York, Springfield, Massachusetts and Canton, Ohio are recognizable to sports fans across the country for one reason and one reason only: they are home to a professional sports hall of fame. Housing the baseball, basketball and football hall of fames, respectively, these small cities have attracted millions of tourists over the years, as sports fans flock to see the greatest collection of history that their favorite pastime has to offer.
However, for many years, the beautiful game, and the world’s most popular game, soccer, has been without a home, at least an American one.
While the initial Hall of Fame opened in Philadelphia in 1950, the true incarnation of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame opened in Oneonta, New York in 1999. Much like Cooperstown, Oneonta is an upstate New York town with not much going for it other than a rich soccer history.
Unfortunately, as New Yorkers will tell you, Oneonta is hardly the most accessible city, and thus the Hall of Fame mostly collected dust over the years and finances were not able to keep up with maintenance. In 2010, the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta closed its doors, and the memorabilia of past soccer glory was moved to a storage unit in North Carolina.
Oneonta was undoubtedly a failure to preserve the legacy of the beautiful game in the United States, but now, thanks to a North Texas suburb, the past glory of American soccer players may be resurrected.
Frisco, Texas, the suburban home of FC Dallas, is set to become the home of a new iteration of the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame. While many MLS and U.S. National Team fans will be scratching their heads as to why Frisco and not somewhere like Seattle, Portland, or even Kansas City, Frisco, it makes a lot more sense than people think.
FC Dallas is the brainchild of Lamar Hunt, arguably the most prominent figure in establishing professional soccer in the United States. Hunt was instrumental in founding MLS, including owning the first two teams to establish soccer specific stadiums, Columbus Crew and FC Dallas. Hunt’s name is emblazoned on the trophy for the U.S. Open Cup, and his statue stands on the concourse at Toyota Stadium, the home of his beloved FC Dallas. In a few years, the Hall of Fame could sit right behind that statue.
Additionally, while many fans may not think of Frisco as a hotbed of American soccer, it most certainly is. FC Dallas has produced 13 homegrown players, more than any other MLS team by quite some margin. Additionally, their academy routinely ranks amongst the best in the entire country, despite being constantly outbid for players by larger clubs like the Los Angeles Galaxy and the two New York clubs.
While FC Dallas may not be the most expensive team, or even the most well supported, they are unquestionably the most organic collection of talent in the MLS, and that’s the legacy Hunt wanted to leave.