The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (BHOF) in Springfield, Massachusetts, has honored and celebrated the game of basketball since its founding in 1959. The original location of the BHOF was on the Springfield College campus. The first off-campus location had its grand opening in 1968. This was close to the home of the first ever basketball game in 1891, played in a YMCA gymnasium by a group of male physical education students and led by their instructor, Dr. James Naismith.
As people learned about this new game, dubbed basketball, its popularity spread quickly. Within a short time of its creation, basketball became a national obsession, and international past time. It continued to evolve from 1894 to 1968 into something similar to the game as we know it in the 21st century. It was only a month before the BHOF had its grand opening that television offered millions of viewers the first live broadcast of a basketball game on January 20, 1968, attended by over 50,000 fans at the Houston Astrodome.
The original BHOF served as a suitable place to honor the game of basketball, its founder Dr. Naismith, and its first inductees. Thousands of visitors reveled in this place representing the birthplace of basketball, learning about earlier stories of the game and gazing at memorabilia. The first BHOF quickly outgrew its surroundings, especially as more superstars entered the world of basketball in the late 1970s and early 1980s, including Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan.
By June 25, 1985, a new larger BHOF opened its doors for a dedication and grand opening, welcoming more than 10,000 basketball fans to view three levels of basketball history and high-tech exhibits. One such interactive exhibit, called the Spalding Shootout, gave fans the opportunity to test their hoop shooting skills from a moving platform. The year of 1985 also saw the inclusion of contributions by female basketball players and coaches.
The years between 1985 and 2000 manifested key moments in basketball history, including a gold medal win at the 1992 summer Olympics by the US Dream Team, and the birth of the Woman’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in 1997. Such impressive growth in basketball’s popularity necessitated a third expansion of the BHOF.
Since 2002, the location for this newest version of the Naismith Memorial BHOF covers 40,000 square feet on the banks of the Connecticut River. Considered one of Springfield’s landmark structures and known as “Hoops Heaven,” this new BHOF admirably honors the memory of basketball’s founder, Dr. Naismith, along with over 300 inductees across the history of the game. Basketball fans can enjoy not only decades of the sport’s history, but also hundreds of interactive exhibits, plus “skills challenges, live clinics, and shooting contests.” If you’re a basketball fan, you won’t want to miss a visit to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
1000 West Columbus Avenue
Springfield, MA 01104
Phone: (413) 781-6500 OR 1-877-4HOOPLA