Less than a year after it's grand opening, the Sports Museum of America has closed its doors. On May 6, 2008, I attended the opening of the Sports Museum of America in downtown Manhattan. There were actually two openings -- one during the daytime with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Eli Manning, Billie Jean King and other dignitaries, and another during the evening with more sports figures and celebrities, including Oksana Baiul. (View my coverage at both events here.) The museum partnered with more than 60 sports halls of fame, including the World Figure Skating Museum & Hall of Fame, to showcase treasured memorabilia and was also the new home of the Heisman Trophy. In mid-February 2009, the Board of Directors decided to end this money-losing venture and the museum closed last week. Currently, the board is asking $10 million to any prospective buyer; otherwise, the memorabilia will be returned to the owners and/or the museums where they came from.
What a bummer and the concept was such a good one too! Consider this -- a place to see the breadth of all the great sports America participates in and not just baseball, basketball and football. There was a great interactive section highlighting the Billie Jean King International Women's Sports Center and even a figure skating exhibit with Kristi's Olympic dress, Sasha's Olympic skates, and much more. The only criticism I had was the admission price -- at $27 per adult and going down to $20 for children, this was a pretty expensive museum to take the family. You had two levels of museum-y stuff to see and do but would visitors shell out this much money? With the economy in a tailspin, I guess the answer was no.
This week's New York magazine has listed some items from the museum's collection that will be returned, including (see illustration below, from left to right):
- Lace-up basketball from the early-twentieth century, on loan from the Basketball Hall of Fame
- Souvenir boxing glove signed by Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier to promote their second fight at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 1974
- Tony Hawk’s trophy from a 1979 youth skateboarding competition in which he placed second
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s helmet from the 2001 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, his last race with his father, Dale Sr., who died in a crash later that month