It's amazing to think that a comprehensive sports museum never existed in America before today. And when one conjures up thoughts of sports museums and hall of fame's, the images of Babe Ruth and Cooperstown, Michael Jordan and Springfield and Joe Namath and Canton typically come to mind; These of course, all being individual museums representing just one particular sport.
But the trend changed on May 6, however, when the Sports Museum of America opened its doors in New York City. Now, for the first time in our nation's history, images, artifacts, videos and interactive features from over 50 professional sports leagues have been merged together to create one of the most unique and mesmorizing experiences a sports fan can have.
I had the distinct pleasure of attending the grand opening of the museum last Tuesday in lower Manhattan. The day began with an amazing pep rally at Bowling Green Park just steps away from the museum doors. As hundreds of tourists snapped photos beside a giant bull statue adorned with a SMU jersey, some of the nation's most recognizable mascots danced around with fans in the park as pep bands played lively sports tunes.
Meanwhile, some of the nation's most recognizable and accomplished athletes took to the stage to introduce the museum. Never in my life have I been in the presence of so many sports legends at once. It was quite inspiring and a moment I will never forget. U.S. hockey gold medalist Jim Craig served as the MC for the event, while NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, tennis legend Billie Jean King and football great Tony Dorsett all provided additional commentary. Other sports greats in attendance on Tuesday included Mario Andretti, Bob Cousy, Walt Frazier, Martina Navratilova, Pat LaFontaine, among many others.
After the pep rally, media members had the opportunity to take a tour of the museum and speak with the hall of famers. With every media organization there from the AP to Newsday to Sports Illustrated to ESPN, it was a madhouse, but I did have the opportunity to talk with track and field great Carl Lewis, basketball legend Bob Cousy, and hockey hero Pat LaFontaine; All true gentleman and great ambassadors for their respective sports.
Meanwhile, the museum is truly amazing. From the artifacts and videos to the memorabilia and interactive features, there is nothing that can compare. This is the ultimate sports fan's dream! You can see how it feels to get behind the wheel of a race car or even see what it's like to have a 100 mph puck come flying at you. Or check out the new home of the women's sports hall of fame. Even visit the amazing football wing which is now the permanent home of the original heisman trophy.
This project truly is also the first step in the downtown New York revitalization project after the events of 9/11. I can't think of a better way to jumpstart the project than with an amazing place like this.
I'm telling you, the next time you are in New York, put SMA on your must-do list.