When the Pro Football Hall of Fame officials made plans to establish a permanent Super Bowl exhibit, they didn’t have to think hard on whom to name it after.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was on hand Saturday to dedicate formally the Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery, named after the late Kansas City Chiefs owner who played a significant role in establishing the championship game, inspiring its nickname and even providing the name for the Lombardi Trophy.
“I don’t think the NFL could ever express its gratefulness to his contributions, but I hope this gallery will do that in a special way,” Goodell said, before he joined members of the Hunt family, numerous Hall-of-Famers and Hall officials for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The dedication came during Hall of Fame weekend celebrations and as the NFL prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the American Football League, which Hunt founded. It was the AFL-NFL merger in 1966 that eventually led to the inaugural Super Bowl, which the Chiefs lost, 35-10, to the Green Bay Packers.
The gallery took nine months to build at a cost of $2.4 million, split between the Hunt family and the NFL. It includes a theater that shows Super Bowl highlights and a room dedicated solely to the Lombardi Trophy.
Hunt, the first person with AFL ties inducted into the Hall in 1972, died in December 2006.
Hunt’s wife, Norma, said she was overjoyed when Hall officials approached her with the idea of what to call the gallery.
“There is no honor on earth that Lamar would rather have than this one, especially because he loved the Super Bowl and the Hall of Fame so much,” Norma Hunt said. “He always saw the success of the Super Bowl as the crowning achievement of the American Football League.”