Second of two parts
Lou Scheinfeld is spearheading a project that he hopes will lead to a sports museum - featuring artifacts from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers - being erected near the South Philadelphia sports complex.
For the last five years, Scheinfeld, a former Flyers vice president, has been meeting with civic leaders and city groups, cultivating the idea of having a Philadelphia sports museum built in the shadow of the Wells Fargo Center, Lincoln Financial Field, and Citizens Bank Park.
According to Scheinfeld, he has received positive feedback in discussions with Mayor Kenney, the Philadelphia Sports Congress, the city's Visitors and Convention Bureau, and representatives from the four major pro teams, along with local and state officials.
"They all think it's a great idea," said Scheinfeld, who is CEO and president of the Museum of Sports. "We were working with Ed Snider to get it done. Unfortunately, Ed passed away . . . but we keep working on it."
Snider, the Flyers' chairman and co-founder, died on April 11.
John Page, president of the Wells Fargo Center Complex, which includes Xfinity Live, said that Snider thought a sports museum would be a great attraction for the city and that the South Philadelphia complex would be a natural site.
But Page said proponents need to present more specific information on various parts of the project. "We would consider the inclusion of the museum," he said before adding that it would take time to investigate before deciding if it would be the right fit for the site.
Comcast-Spectacor, in a partnership with the Cordish Companies, owns the development rights to the city-owned land surrounding the Wells Fargo Center, Page said.
Scheinfeld estimates it would cost $20 million to erect the state-of-the-art building, which would be equipped with interactive, high-tech electronics that "people will be blown away with. We want people to come back and be wowed by the experience, where you see what it's like to face a 100 mile-per-hour fastball or drive an Indy car."
There would be no cost to taxpayers - or to Comcast-Spectacor - to construct the building, Scheinfeld said. "It's up to me and others to raise the money, he said, noting he already has a pledge from a donor for $1 million and that he has submitted a $1.2 million state grant request.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell, also a onetime Philadelphia mayor, offered to head the museum's finance committee, Scheinfeld said, because he "wants to make this happen."
Flyers Charities has pledged $50,000 for the project and said it will donate that amount every year if the Phillies, Eagles and 76ers also do so, Scheinfeld said.
"We're still waiting to hear from the other teams; they're considering it," said Scheinfeld, who said the museum would also have an Italian restaurant, a retail store, and a cigar and wine bar. He said Snider's "idea was if we had a total of $200,000 coming in each year from the four teams, it would help us with the planning [costs] and architects and lawyers."
If all goes as Scheinfeld hopes, the building would open in 2018. He has renderings of the proposed building, which he envisions would have 25,000 to 30,000 square feet of space and would have audio and video presentations, skill activities, and media and computer-interactive stations.
Nicholas DePace, a cardiologist who earlier this year opened a sports museum in Collingswood that is dominated by artifacts from Philly teams, said he would move his collection to the South Philadelphia site if it is built. Atlantic City is another possibility, he said, but he added that the sports complex would be the perfect location.
"We need to put it in a sports environment," said DePace, 62.
Scheinfeld said the museum's plans could be expedited by late October. At that time, he said, Snider's estate "will be completely settled as far as what [the family] owns . . . and how much Comcast will be taking back or buying out. And then they may be able to tell me what they can do for the next phase of development."
Page had no comment on Snider's estate and how it would affect plans.
According to Scheinfeld, about 8.5 million people attend Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, and 76ers games, and other events, at the sports complex each year, making it a natural to build the sports museum in that area.
In addition to memorabilia from all the Philadelphia sports teams, Scheinfeld said the non-profit museum might display artifacts from the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, the Big Five, the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association, the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, and the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, among others. Boxing promoters J. Russell Peltz and Joe Hand are also interested in having parts of their collections there.
"Any organization would be welcome to join it; we would have space for everybody," Scheinfeld said.
"Everybody needs a home. This would be their home," said Eric Katz, curator of the DePace sports museum.
Said DePace: "We have things that correlate with world history. Sports interacts with history."
"There are 40 million people a year who visit Philadelphia," Scheinfeld said. ". . . We think this would be great for the city."
The highlight of the museum, undoubtedly, would be DePace's massive collection. If the Philadelphia sports museum becomes a reality, Scheinfeld said discounts would be offered to those who presented ticket stubs from sporting events, and that he envisioned it would take 2 to 21/2 hours to walk through the museum.
The museum's artifacts would be rotated to keep things fresh and keep people coming back, said Scheinfeld, and he envisioned special exhibits that would correlate to the sports season that is in progress.
"We would also piggyback on traveling museums and have them on display, such as one from the Baseball Hall of Fame," Scheinfeld said.
Scheinfeld wants to have high-tech, interactive displays that coincide with what spectators are viewing at the sports museum.
"Kids can come and follow it on their iPads and play digital games - and maybe test their skills and see what it's like to row in the Dad Vail Regatta, or bike up the Manayunk Wall, or other different events," he said. "I've been working on this for five years pro bono - it's all as a volunteer - and I'm just bursting with ideas. I just hope we can make this happen."