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Thread: National Sports Museum

  1. #1

    Default National Sports Museum

    NY Post...



    IMAGINE going to bat against Nolan Ryan or going one on one with Michael Jordan - and doing it within walking distance of the New York Stock Exchange and the World Trade Center site.

    That's the dream of sports and entertainment industry executive Philip Schwalb, founder of the ambitiously conceived National Sports Museum - a jumbo venue that would combine state-of-the-art simulators with exhibits on the impact of sports on American life and culture.

    Schwalb's Meaningful Entertainment Group aims to assemble a $48 million public/private financing package by this summer, with the goal of launching the museum in Lower Manhattan by 2005.

    It hopes to draw on a partnership that might include Lower Manhattan Development Corp. grants, Economic Development Corp. tax-exempt bonds, and private funding.

    Heartened by a letter of support from Mayor Bloomberg and "enthusiastic" talks with officials of the LMDC and the EDC, Schwalb has tapped CB Richard Ellis to find it a home downtown.

    CBRE broker Timothy Sheehan, a former Port Authority executive who oversaw the retail renaissance of the World Trade Center concourse in the late 1990s, is prowling for a suitable exhibition space of between 70,000 and 100,000 square feet - a challenge in the Wall Street area.

    Sheehan chuckled: "Look at it this way - '100,000 square feet perfect for sports museum' doesn't usually pop up on CoStar," the online database.

    But the downtown area has a number of large, ground-level, bi- and tri-level spaces with good street visibility. They include grand old banking halls, undeveloped piers, and under-utilized office building lobbies.

    "We're working to find the right space," Sheehan said. "It needs a strong street presence and an interior that will lend itself to adapting for exhibitions, with high ceilings."

    Schwalb believes the sports museum and New York are a perfect fit, thanks to the city's fabled sports legacy and its diverse, multinational population.

    "There's nowhere in the world that celebrates all sports in one venue," he says. "And the sports constituency is now international. For example, 26 percent of all Major League Baseball players were born overseas.

    "The other part of our mission is to help rebuild downtown and revitalize tourism," he adds.

    Schwalb says a sports museum belongs downtown, with its rich history and associations with New York as a port of entry as symbolized by the Statue of Liberty and the harbor.

    And a sports museum is the sort of family-friendly attraction that Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Dan DoctoroffL are hoping to lure downtown. CBRE's chief operating officer, Cherrie Nanninga, noted that "downtown has lots to see, but there aren't many museums or venues for kids of high school age or younger to enjoy."

    Downtown Alliance president and LMDC board member Carl Weisbrod called the plan "a great idea - a fantastic addition to downtown. We certainly support their efforts to create the museum."

    Schwalb's enthusiasm for interactive displays was fired by an earlier association with Edwin Schlossberg's highly regarded ESI Design firm, which created the 22-story Reuters sign in Times Square. He is working with museum specialists Gallagher & Associates, who designed the popular new International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., on concepts for the sports museum.

    He sees as a model the popular Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. - "the most contemporary of sports museums," he says, and full of interactive exhibits.

    The National Sports Museum would draw on the resources of existing museums, halls of fame and sports organizations.

    Schwalb already has "letters of involvement" from 10 institutions, including the U.S. Olympics Committee, the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, NCAA Hall of Champions, NASCAR, and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

  2. #2
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    Default National Sports Museum

    This is gonna be great. A great idea for what could be a hugely popular museum. *It is surprising no one has done this before.

    I just hope the major sports contriubute enough, even though some parts of this might go against their individual halls of fame.

    This is what NYC needs - big ideas, ones to raise the level of culture/entertianment/tourism/jobs in the city.

    I wonder if it will be built on a pier to help spark some waterfront development.

  3. #3
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Default National Sports Museum

    Wow, very cool. So few attractions are interactive.

    It's hard to imagine where such a museum could be - maybe on one of the piers south of South Street Seaport? Except for the need for tourism Downtown, this sounds like something more suitable for Times Square.

  4. #4

    Default National Sports Museum

    A sports museum would be great for downtown, as it would draw many visitors, and possibly enliven the area with some culture. *it might even spur some other new developments. *I just have this eerie feeling that it won't get builit. *It just seems to me like any new developments in downtown are taboo, especially one that might have some benefits.

  5. #5
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    A good sign is I heard a whisper about this monthes ago somewhere and not there seems to be some real planning involved (architects, finanances, etc). *The city has a lot of people on reviving downtown and this would be a really great addition. I guess all we can do is wait and hope.

  6. #6

    Default National Sports Museum

    People are un-aware of the culture downtown, and theres more in the coming year. Off the top of my head Museum of Women, Finance, Jewish, Skyscrapers, Stock Exchange, Federal Reserve, Seaport, Judicial. Sports would be great, add it to the mix. Hell, there was once a Banum's circus off Wall Street, we need that back too, not to uphold any themes or common conventions. I think a trolley service wouldn't hurt.

  7. #7
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    I'd love to see the Sports museum on the water with a permanent space for Curque de Soleil, instead of just in the summer, etc.

  8. #8

  9. #9


    December 3, 2003


    The House That Ruth Didn't Build


    NEARLY 15 years ago, a band of local sports devotees founded the New York Sports Museum and Hall of Fame. Here at last, they announced, would be a central place that celebrated the Dodgers of Brooklyn, the Jets of Flushing, the hoop tournaments of Harlem — and yes, even the Devils of New Jersey.

    They received a charter for a nonprofit educational corporation from the state's Board of Regents, won the support of two major benefactors, and boldly predicted that the $25 million sports museum would be open within two years. They even began inductions into the Hall of Fame, without yet having a hall in which to hang the plaques.

    Such confidence lasted as long as the pennant hopes of the '62 Mets. One benefactor died and the other changed his mind. The annual Hall of Fame dinners didn't raise enough money to justify getting dressed up, so the functions quietly came to an end. Ditto the golf outings and memorabilia auctions. The New York Sports Museum became a dream that a few people carried around in their heads.

    Those few still dream. They maintain a Midtown office, keep alert for deep-pocket donors and publish sports books to raise money and keep the museum's name alive. They try to tape-record the recollections of old-time New York sports figures before it is too late, and keep their artifacts in storage in Westchester until that glorious day.

    "The history of sports in New York is so deep and rich that it's a history of American sports in general," said Jordan Sprechman, a lawyer and the museum's secretary-treasurer, who has taped a few reminiscences himself.

    Last year, Mr. Sprechman and Bill Shannon, the museum's president, learned of something called the American Sports Experience: a $48 million plan to open a major attraction in Lower Manhattan that would display collections from various sports halls of fame. At first, Mr. Sprechman thought that his museum might strike a partnership with this new venture, but that idea went nowhere.

    Then, a few months ago, Mr. Sprechman had a "What in the Y. A. Tittle" moment. The proponents of the American Sports Experience, he learned, were describing it as a potential boon to post-9/11 redevelopment, and trumpeting an endorsement from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, which was fine. What irked him was its new name: the National Sports Museum.

    The name, he said, suggests that it is a nonprofit educational institution like, well, like the New York Sports Museum and Hall of Fame. But it is not; it is a commercial endeavor. "I didn't understand how it could operate as a for-profit entity and call itself a museum," he said.

    The New York Sports Museum then sued the New York Department of State for issuing the name "National Sports Museum Management, L.L.C." to a profit-making operation. The state has pretty much scoffed at the suit, saying, for example, that there is no prohibition against using "museum" in a management company's name.

    Philip Schwalb, founder and chief executive officer of the National Sports Museum, expressed exasperation with Mr. Sprechman's quest. He said that only Mr. Sprechman saw the use of the word "museum" as an issue, and he wondered whether "the frustration over the last 20 years from not having built his museum" was at play.

    BUT why the name change?

    "That's a good question," Mr. Schwalb said. The answer, he said, is that plans for the venture now include exhibits from 32 sports halls of fame — though not the Baseball Hall of Fame — as well as interactive features, a 360-degree theater, and a large retail area. "It would be like the Museum of Natural History, except for sports," he said, echoing a local sportscaster's assessment.

    He said "national" and "museum" did not necessarily suggest that his plan was nonprofit, and pointed out that Madame Tussaud's wax museum and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum are both profit-making enterprises. He also said that his museum would be financed by private investors — fully aware of the endeavor's commercial aspect — and, possibly, with funds from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

    One more thing. The final name might not include the word "museum" at all. "Ultimately," he said, "the name might be the National Sports Experience."

    If Mr. Schwalb drops the word "museum," Mr. Sprechman said, he will drop his lawsuit and return to what real museums do. For example, he said, the New York Sports Museum and Hall of Fame now has in its collection some programs from the 2003 World Series. In that case, at least, the favorite lost to the underdog.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

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    Is that just insane? What a moron. Don't be bitter b/c you can't get it done and someone else can.

  11. #11


    April 29, 2004

    At Bowling Green, a Museum for All Sports


    The $60 million National Sports Museum, shown here in a rendering, would have a 360-degree video projection system. It is being planned for the former Standard Oil Building, a landmark in Lower Manhattan.

    Overlooking the 18th-century Bowling Green, one of New York's earliest sporting grounds, a new visitor attraction called the National Sports Museum is being planned in the landmark former Standard Oil Building at 26 Broadway.

    Among its exhibits, the museum would promote halls of fame in other parts of the country, as well as sports organizations, foundations and other museums. There would be a theater with a 360-degree video projection system. And, in a section devoted to specific sports, the prospectus promises "subtle but distinct scents, such as chlorine in the swimming area and popcorn, cut grass or cotton candy in the baseball area."

    Philip Schwalb, the founder and chief executive of the museum, has been floating his idea for more than two years. An announcement is planned today that will fill in some blanks, including the location and the architects: Beyer Blinder Belle, the Manhattan firm responsible for the rebuilding and restoration of Grand Central Terminal.

    Although a sports museum may seem incongruous in the Rockefellers' old headquarters, the nearby National Museum of the American Indian is housed in the former United States Custom House.

    "If you're going to do an iconic venue and a historic venue," Mr. Schwalb said yesterday, "I felt Lower Manhattan and, in particular, proximity to the Statue of Liberty and the World Trade Center memorial is the right place."

    The concept won nearly identical endorsements from Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff in August 2002 and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in January 2003. Yesterday, Kevin M. Rampe, president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said the museum would be a "great attraction" downtown.

    Mr. Schwalb estimated that the museum would cost $60 million. Thirty percent would come from investors (he currently counts about 45), and 70 percent would be borrowed. Mr. Schwalb said he would probably apply for tax-exempt Liberty Bond financing, but first needed a building.

    And in a telephone interview yesterday, he did not go so far as to say that he had a lease with the owners of 26 Broadway, the Koeppel family, but did say that an agreement was executed last week for almost 90,000 square feet of space on the first and second floors.

    Mr. Schwalb said a challenge to his use of the name "museum," filed by the founders of the yet-unbuilt New York Sports Museum and Hall of Fame, was "absolutely not an issue."

    His museum is to open next year. The main entrance would not be through the monumental Broadway lobby, but rather via the south side of the building, on Beaver Street.

    Any alterations to the exterior would require the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. But Frederick Bland, a partner in Beyer Blinder Belle, said the exterior work would not be significant. The building was constructed in stages beginning in the 19th century and ending in the late 1920's. The grand second floor, with 21-foot-high ceilings and arched windows looking out over Bowling Green and Battery Park, was once a club, Mr. Bland said. Perhaps more important, he said, "there is great visibility of museum spaces from the street."

    Beyer Blinder Belle will be working on the interiors with Gallagher & Associates of Bethesda, Md., which specializes in museum exhibits.

    Mr. Schwalb said he anticipates charging an admission fee of $14 for adults, $8 for children. Revenues for the museum would come from the sale of tickets, merchandise, food and beverages and from special events.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  12. #12
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    Sports Museum and Heisman Find Place in Lower Manhattan


    Published: April 13, 2005

    he Heisman Trophy, which has been without an official home since the Downtown Athletic Club closed four years ago, will remain in Lower Manhattan as the centerpiece of the National Sports Museum being planned in a building on Broadway at Bowling Green.

    The overseeing board of the Heisman Trophy Trust, which controls the trophy, entered into an agreement yesterday with the National Sports Museum to house the trophy and create an exhibit using Heisman historical artifacts and memorabilia. Philip Schwalb, the chief executive and founder of the sports museum, said the museum hoped to become the site of the annual presentation of the Heisman Trophy, a nationally televised event in which the top college football player of the year is selected.

    The 100,000-square foot museum at 25 Broadway in the former Cunard Passenger Ship Line building is scheduled to be completed in November 2006. It is considered the first national museum to celebrate all sports under one roof.

    "The Heisman deserves a permanent home," said Bill Dockery, president of the Heisman Trophy Trust. "We're had offers coming in from all over the country. But we're delighted that the trophy is staying in New York City and staying downtown where it was born, nurtured and grew to be the premier individual sports award in America."

    The Heisman Trophy was first awarded in 1935 by the Downtown Athletic Club, which had erected a 35-story building at the southern tip of West Street and quickly became a mecca for Wall Street businessmen and sports enthusiasts.

    In 1936, the trophy was named in memory of the club's athletic director, John Heisman, a longtime college football coach. It has been given out every year since, recognizing some of the most notable athletes of the 20th century. The Downtown Athletic Club, only a few blocks from the World Trade Center, closed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Since then, the Heisman Trophy ceremony has taken place at other Manhattan locations, most recently at the New York Hilton in Midtown. The landmark Downtown Athletic Club building, no longer controlled by the club, is being converted into condominiums, Dockery said.

    "It's exciting that the Heisman is coming home to help in the rebirth of Lower Manhattan," said Schwalb, whose sports museum will take shape with the help of $52 million in Liberty redevelopment bonds. "From the back windows of the National Sports Museum you can see the old Downtown Athletic Club building. It's a historical touchstone, and I'm very enamored with the fact that you can see building to building."

    The collection of former Heisman Trophy winners, many of whom attend the award's presentation annually, have been eager for the trophy to find a new home, even if they will reluctantly say goodbye to the Downtown Athletic Club's wood-paneled Heisman Room, where the trophy presentation was held for decades.

    "We'll remember the Downtown Athletic Club as it was," John Cappelletti, the 1973 Heisman winner, said yesterday. "There's nothing we can do about it now. More important than anything else is that the Heisman has found a place that hopefully will be its permanent home. I am glad it's going to a place of sports history. You don't want the Heisman on display in some hotel lobby."

    Schwalb's concept for a national sports museum has been several years in the making. The design calls for a highly interactive site dedicated to the history, meaning and culture of sports. The museum has created partnerships with more than 25 organizations like the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame that have agreed to contribute permanent and temporary exhibits. The Cunard building has a wide great hall and will include what designers are calling an immersion theater where visitors will be surrounded by a 360-degree video projection system.

    The original Heisman Trophy, cast in 1935, and the distinctive oil portraits of every winner, which once hung in the club's Heisman Room, will be part of a separate exhibit on the main floor.

    Noting the museum's location near Battery Park and the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, Schwalb estimates an annual attendance for the museum of more than 1.2 million, which would make it by far the best-attended sports museum in the country.

    Construction on the interior of the building at 25 Broadway is to begin in June.

    "It is especially important to me that this museum will be in a place that is accessible to people of different incomes, races and nationalities," Schwalb said. "When the first sports museums were created 70 years ago, the integration of sports wasn't a factor. We're taking all that change and putting it in a place that is central to the world."

    The Heisman trust and the museum signed a five-year contract, although Schwalb said each side has an option to renew at the contract's conclusion. Dockery said it was the trust's intention to remain at the museum.

    "We wouldn't have made this marriage if we didn't think the National Sports Museum intended to honor the trophy," Dockery said. "The last few years have been a little bit difficult for those of us trying to protect the integrity and reputation of the Heisman. We've been looking for a home. We believe we've found one."

    Jim Corcoran, past president of the Downtown Athletic Club and another member of the Heisman Trophy Trust board, said: "People are drawn to the trophy. They want to touch it and feel what it's all about. Now it is back where it belongs."

    The Heisman Trophy has not had an official home since 2001.

    Copyright 2005The New York Times Company

  13. #13


    July 2, 2006
    National Museum in New York, for Public and for Profit

    An artist's conception of the National Sports Museum in Manhattan.

    To Philip Schwalb, the questions were elementary but unanswered.

    If big cities have art, science and children's museums, why is there not a Smithsonian-like celebration of the impact of sports on society?

    Where is the sports version of the American Museum of Natural History, minus the dinosaur fossils and planetarium?

    "Why not?" said Schwalb, who turns heads with his resemblance to the actor James Gandolfini. "Isn't sports important enough?"

    Schwalb is edging closer to answering those questions. In late August, construction is scheduled to start in Lower Manhattan on the $93 million National Sports Museum, with 25,000 feet of interactive exhibits; a 360-degree immersion theater; one room devoted to the Heisman Trophy (entry will cost $3 more than the average $17 admission fee) and another that might house the Women's Sports Foundation's hall of fame named for Billie Jean King. There will also be a large area dedicated to dozens of halls of fame, national governing bodies and other organizations. It is expected to open in early 2008.

    "I believe that marketed correctly, it will bring people," said Richard Lapchick, director of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. "Anyone who can bring the Heisman and the Women's Sports Foundation together knows how to get things done."

    Schwalb avoided the glut of Times Square for two floors of Standard Oil's old building at 26 Broadway, a short walk to the ferries that take tourists to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and a few blocks from the proposed World Trade Center memorial, which is expected to draw millions.

    "We wanted an icon feel in an icon location," he said.

    When Schwalb looks out of the massive arched windows of the first floor, he sees the section of the city's ticker-tape parade route known as the Canyon of Heroes and the photogenic 7,000-pound bronze Wall Street bull.

    On the sidewalk outside the landmark building are, serendipitously, the granite plaques that commemorate the parades for the golfer Bobby Jones and the swimmer Gertrude Ederle, two of a series of plaques embedded at regular intervals in the neighborhood's streets by the Alliance for Downtown New York.

    The expectation in Schwalb's earlier plans was to attract 800,000 customers a year, but he predicted that Lower Manhattan's vibrancy, and his location, would push attendance to one million, topping major New York City attractions like Madame Tussaud's in Times Square (702,000 in 2005) and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum (750,000). At one million it would fall short of the Museum of Modern Art (2.7 million) and the Empire State Building's observation deck (3.8 million).

    "The devil is in the details," Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff said. "It should have broad appeal, but will the execution live up to its lofty plans?"

    Indeed, the plans are exalted. The museum will celebrate sports through the prisms of history, innovation, diversity and inspiration, and through the history of field geniuses, great friendships, upsets, gender pioneers and the evolution of equipment. It will let visitors feel that they are on a tennis court or facing a slap shot by Wayne Gretzky. It will let them design golf clubs or examine the roots of tailgating. Visitors can learn the history of integration, play umpire, take a pit stop test, respond to a starter's gun on a miniature track, punch a speed bag or make an uphill climb on a Tour de France cycling simulator.

    "Sports is so central to our culture that it's important to tell people about its history and get them close to the objects involved," said Craig Masback, chief executive of USA Track and Field, which will have a kiosk in the hall of halls. USA Track and Field's hall of fame is in the Armory Track and Field Center in Upper Manhattan.

    Schwalb views the museum as a place to educate and entertain, like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

    "It will not be a flea market for sports," he said.

    Schwalb, 43, grew up in Orlando, Fla., a fan of Duke basketball and, a bit incongruously, of the Knicks, the Jets and the Mets. He used to pretend to be Bill Bradley while playing basketball in his driveway. He recalled attending Game 6 of 1986 World Series and seeing the scalper who had sold him his ticket embrace a fan after the Mets' stunning victory.

    Schwalb was working for a museum design firm owned by Edwin A. Schlossberg, the husband of Caroline Kennedy, when the idea for the museum came to him. He was returning home from spending his 39th birthday — the day before the 9/11 attacks — at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., which he said was quite empty. (A new hall opened a year later.)

    "The part of me that gets emotional about sports asked why weren't people going and I thought, 'Gosh, what if this were in New York City near the Statue of Liberty and other attractions?' " he said.

    At first, Schwalb said, he financed his museum concept with his life savings and by taking a $120,000 cash advance on his credit cards. He eventually moved into the realm of considerably higher finance, bringing in $36 million from investors, $52 million in Liberty Bonds, a federal tax-exempt bond financing program administered by the city and the state to help revive downtown after 9/11, and $5 million in state-issued taxable bonds.

    When he began searching for investors, Schwalb said, wallets opened with unexpected ease. To attract investors, he is projecting a 30 percent annual return on their money. George M. Motz, the head of Melhado, Flynn & Associates, an investment advisory firm, gathered some wealthy friends at the Surf Club of Quogue on Long Island to listen to Schwalb's pitch.

    "Afterward, they all said it was a no-brainer," said Motz, the mayor of Quogue, "and wondered why hadn't anybody thought of it before."

    Another investor, Robert S. Kapito, vice chairman of BlackRock Inc., a money management firm, said: "Just think if the Yankees win the World Series and they go down the Canyon of Heroes. Don't you think they're going to the museum? Everybody I talked to said they wanted to invest."

    Schwalb's venture is a for-profit business, unlike virtually all other museums that rely on being tax exempt. His model is the International Spy Museum in Washington, which has proved espionage's broad appeal in a short period of time. Both museums share the same designer.

    Adrian Ellis, a museum consultant, said that a for-profit museum could work "under certain circumstances," such as having a "popular topic in a pretty dense urban area with a lot of visitors."

    Ellis added, "Maybe the sports museum fits that."

    The museum's $2.5 million marketing budget is far beyond what halls of fame can spend. Schwalb said he would use less money on television and radio advertising and more on promoting the museum through various parts of the travel business. He said the museum would benefit from being the site of the televised Heisman Trophy award show.

    "Madame Tussaud's can't get that," he said. The trophy was orphaned when the Downtown Athletic Club was shuttered after 9/11.

    To reach its profit goals of at least $20 million a year, before paying debt service, the museum will try to sell its naming rights, as well as those of many exhibit areas, to sponsors. It will also have extensive retail space, a restaurant and a nighttime event space for up to 2,500 people.

    "When you look at who is likely to use that kind of facility, it's all of us who want to be jocks, who say, 'Where would you rather go to dinner, at MoMA or the sports museum?' " said Peter Lamm, an investor who runs Fenway Partners, a private equity firm. "It's close to Wall Street."

    Far from Wall Street, though, are those halls of fame and other groups that will get four-by-six-foot kiosks to promote themselves. Schwalb said that each would receive annual stipends from a $2 million fund to be set aside from overall revenues, which are estimated to grow beyond $50 million within several years of the museum's opening.

    "It's not like I'm building a hall of fame and saying to heck with the rest of them," he said. "The cannibalization concern is my first question."

    The museum will depend on the artifacts that are lent by the halls of fame and other donations, but Schwalb said it would not buy any.

    John Doleva, president of the Basketball Hall of Fame, which draws 235,000 to 250,000 people annually, said that the museum would promote the hall, and that the hall would provide memorabilia to the museum.

    "The museum business is not a growth industry," Doleva said, "so to be successful we need to find new revenue sources, which means finding new partners like Philip."

    Nearly every other major Hall of Fame will have a role in the museum, but the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame declined to participate early on.

    "We're happy with Cooperstown and delivering our message externally," said Jeff Idelson, a spokesman for baseball's Hall of Fame.

    Schwalb has not given up on bringing those two halls into the museum, but he is more focused on the construction and on building a cash-rich business that could spin off small offspring in San Francisco and Chicago.

    "There's no play to take it public or sell it," he said. "It's a play to make money."

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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