New Pro Football Hall of Fame head has ties to Henderson

David Baker, a partner in the Union Village development in Henderson, has been named president and executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The selection takes effect Monday. Baker and his wife, Colleen, are moving from Orange County, Calif., to Canton, Ohio, where the Hall of Fame is located.

“We are very fortunate to have such a successful and experienced entrepreneur and executive like Dave Baker join the Hall of Fame team,” Tom Schervish, chairman of the board of trustees, said in a statement. “He has a consistent record of success in areas that are vital to the future success of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

A Union Village spokesman said Baker will remain on the management committee for Union Village and will continue to play a role in the Henderson project’s development.

The $1.6 billion Union Village project is being billed as the first integrated health village in the world. It is to be built on 228 acres near U.S. Highway 95 and Galleria Drive.

Baker’s professional sports career includes a 12-year tenure as commissioner of the Arena Football League. Baker joined the arena league in 1995 when he purchased the Anaheim Piranhas, which had started as the Las Vegas Sting. He was elected the league’s chairman of the board the same year.

The 6-foot-9-inch Baker was a power forward and captain of the basketball team at UC Irvine from 1971 to 1975. He also played two seasons of professional basketball in Europe before returning to obtain a law degree from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif.

As an attorney in California, Baker specialized in corporate mergers, acquisitions and real estate law. From 1984 to 1988, he served as a city councilman and mayor of Irvine.

Baker will be become the sixth president and executive director in the Hall of Fame’s 50-year history. He will succeed Stephen Perry, who has served since April 2006. Perry announced in September that he planned to retire as soon as the board of trustees selected his successor.

In a statement, Baker said, “I am humbled to be afforded the esteemed privilege of continuing Stephen Perry’s leadership and the great work of the Pro Football Hall of Fame team in honoring the greatest heroes and legends of the game, preserving its rich history as well as promoting the positive values and noble virtues of a game that is central to our American culture and our country’s strength of character.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and several NFL team owners have worked closely with Baker in the past.

“The bond between the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame is stronger than ever,” Goodell said in the statement. “David is a dynamic executive with a strong football background. We look forward to supporting him in growing the Hall of Fame’s record of success.”

The Bakers have four children, including two sons who have been involved in football and professional sports.

Ben, 31, is a former offensive lineman who received a scholarship to Duke and now is a senior manager of broadcasting at NASCAR in Charlotte, N.C. Sam, 28, is a former three-time All-America left tackle at Southern California and has just completed his sixth season with the Atlanta Falcons, where he was a first-round draft pick in 2008.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710. Follow @CarriGeer on Twitter.