Tom Benson makes $11 million pledge to Hall of Fame

New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has made an $11 million pledge to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the largest donation in the Hall's 51-year history.

"Canton is the birthplace of football. Football has very direct and strong connections to New Orleans. The game of football has served as a positive beacon in our city. It has given our citizens hope in tough, trying times. So football is very important, and the place that honors the birth of the game and honors the greats that have played the game..." Benson said in a statement, per the team's official website.

Of the $11 million gift, $10 million will go toward renovation of the 76-year-old Fawcett Stadium. The venue, which hosts the Hall of Fame's annual enshrinement ceremony and the Hall of Fame Game, will be renamed "Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium."

The additional $1 million is the initial funding for the Hall of Fame's Legends Landing Program. The program is a planned mixed-use residence that includes room for Hall of Famers and elderly players who might have health and housing needs.

In a letter to be sent to fellow owners Monday, per The Times-Picayune, Benson asked his peers to join him in financing the housing project.

"While the National Football League is, according to every business metric stronger than ever, our beloved Game continues to face unprecedented challenges and scrutiny. It's for that reason, when approached by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, that I have decided to make a financial gift to the Pro Football Hall of Fame recently announced master plan -- the Hall of Fame Village and specifically the Legends Landing," Benson wrote in the statement.

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