SBD/Issue 52/Facilities & Venues

West Coast Custom: Sports Museum of L.A. Set To Open Doors

The Sports Museum of L.A. (SMLA) Friday will celebrate its grand opening, offering the largest known collection of sports memorabilia and collectibles in the world. The 32,000-square-foot museum contains more than 10,000 pieces, which will be housed in 30 different galleries. Items include Baseball HOFer Lou Gehrig's warm-up jacket, worn on the day he ended his consecutive games played streak in '39, and the record-breaking ball from Baseball HOFer Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak. Admission costs $17.50 for adults aged 13-59, $14 for seniors and students and $11 for children aged 5-12. Admission is free for guests under the age of 5 (SMLA). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth wrote the SMLA's opening has been the "most anticipated for Southern California sports history buffs since the eventual disappearance [of] the Helms Athletic Hall of Fame some 30 years ago." Not all of the memorabilia, which SMLA CEO Gary Cypres estimated at more than $30M, will be "able to be put on display because of the space limitations." Cypres, a former college basketball player at Hofstra Univ., "made his fortunes from investment banking." Cypres said of the museum, "Too often I think today kids don't have a sense of history or understand the importance of Jackie Robinson or Bill Russell. I hope it spurs interest in going back to what sports has meant to America, to see how sports has mirrored what happened in society" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 11/24).

ROOM TO GROW: In L.A., Greg Johnson noted Cypres has spent more than $1M "bringing the building up to city code." Cypres is operating the SMLA as a "for-profit business, but has begun paperwork to convert it to a nonprofit." Johnson noted the museum offers "no soccer or hockey memorabilia," and "little evidence that women have played sports." But Cypres "sees such deficits as ways to grow" (L.A. TIMES, 11/24). Cypres already is in the "process of planning an expansion." Cypres said that he has "enough material -- including a replica of a circa 1900 boxing gym -- to fill at least another 12,000 square feet" (L.A. DOWNTOWN NEWS, 11/24).

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