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Here's The Lowdown On Plans To Build An American Sports Museum In Chicago

By Emma G. Gallegos in Arts & Entertainment on Mar 22, 2017 8:20PM

It probably won't look like this... (American Sports Museum)

After plans for the George Lucas Museum foundered, former executives from the Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium realized that Chicago was hungry for another museum. Lucas' proposal didn't hit the mark—Friends of the Park blocked it from locating on a stretch of lakefront—but these execs realized that otherwise the public, donors and the city itself was ready. That's when they began hatching a plan to bring a new museum to the city.

They set their sites on a museum focused on sports, aimed not just at diehard sports fans but also students. There are Halls of Fame all over the country, but they tend to be set in smaller towns and focused on a single sport. And they tend to be less interdisciplinary and more focused on memorabilia.

"There is something about sports we don't often consider," Marc Lapides, former Chief Marketing Officer at the Adler Planetarium, said in a statement. "Sports connect to our lives in so many ways. Sure, it teaches us about teamwork or how to win and lose, but sports are so much more. They can educate us about physics, teach us about our own anatomy and modern medicine, and sports can be the catalyst to breaking down race, gender and social barriers allowing us to 'play' better together as humans."

Lapides—along with Roger Germann, former Executive Vice President at the Shedd Aquarium—is leading the charge for what is being called the American Sports Museum. They said that their museum would not just feature Babe Ruth's glove but it would also demonstrate the physics behind a curveball or showcase the history of the Negro League. There will be attention to the Olympics, women's sports and even anatomy. You can see a full pitch of the museum here:

The American Sports Museum has an indiegogo page up and running to help fund the first staffers for $100,000. Once they have that going they're hoping they can fundraise $50 million and find a 10,0000 square foot site around downtown to really put the wheels in motion. Once that happens, they could open a museum in three or four years, according to Crain's.

They don't expect to get much in the way of public funding, but they are hoping athletes and corporations might kick in to the project to get a wing or even the entire building named after them. So far the board includes members from EZLinks Golf, talent agency IMG Worldwide and a British media and entertainment tech company PlayFusion.

Previous attempts to create an national all-sports museum have fell apart in Baltimore and New York. But Lapides and Germann believe Chicago might be the right place and now is the right time.

"Chicago is one of the world’s greatest cities. It’s a sports town like no other and is home to one of the greatest collections of museums and cultural attractions anywhere," said Germann, in a statement.

And despite Lucas' failure, it is possible to get a new museum off the ground in the 21st Century: the American Writing Museum will be opening in May.