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December 21, 2014

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Developer of sports memorabilia museum hopes to score big at Luxor

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The space at Score! cost $2 million to develop, and the memorabilia is worth much more. It is on loan from halls of fame and private collectors.

No one wanted to play ball with Jim Beckmann when he first pitched the idea for Score!, a sports memorabilia museum and exhibit on the Strip.

"Everyone said no," Beckmann said.

For many, Las Vegas conjured up images of casinos and gambling, which didn't sit well with some image-conscious sports organizations.

"It was about educating our partners that sports tourism is a big market here," Beckmann said.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway was the first to join with Score!, which landed at the Luxor. Then came a partnership with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

"As we got more people on board, we started gaining momentum and traction," Beckmann said.

Evenutally, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio; the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto; the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.; and the U.S. Soccer Federation in Chicago signed on.

Score! hosts an opening celebration Wednesday. Its 2,000-square-foot gift shop and television studio has been open since May, but its 8,000-square-foot exhibit hall debuts this week.

The space cost $2 million to develop, and the memorabilia is worth much more. It is on loan from halls of fame and private collectors via multiyear contracts.

Tickets cost $28 for adults, $20 for Nevada residents and $15 for children under age 12.

Beckmann has experience with both sports and exhibits. He spent more than a decade planning events and concerts for NASCAR races in Florida. He also helped procure artifacts for the Mob Experience at the Tropicana, which resulted in a suit against the former owner over the collection. Beckmann said he won a default judgment in that case.

He recently gave the Sun a preview of Score!

    • The contracts

      The exhibit’s first display centers on professional athletes’ contracts. It includes a wall of contracts signed by some of the biggest names in sports, with negotiation letters and scouting reports.

      The display sits next to a model of a sports agent's office overlooking the Strip. Another wall features the Top 100 highest-paid athletes (No. 1: boxer Floyd Mayweather) and the Top 50 richest sports franchises (led by British soccer club Manchester United).

    • Interactive exhibits

      In this exhibit, visitors don't just observe. They participate.

      Fans are greeted with iPads, on which they enter their names and pick a sport: football, baseball, basketball, boxing, hockey or soccer. They choose a team and pick the type of career they want. Choices include: make lots of money, be a celebrity or become a hall of famer.

      "We wanted this to be more than a museum," Beckmann said. "We wanted this to be something sports fans could participate in. There are 10 interactive pieces throughout the exhibits."

    • Football

      A football gallery displays uniforms, game jerseys and trophies, including Jim Brown's 1957 MVP trophy and Marcus Allen's Heisman Trophy.

      Next to the trophy is a large display of championship rings.

    • Test your skills

      Visitors can test their skills and strength to see how they measure up to the pros.

      Score! challenges fans to test their peripheral vision, jumping ability, hockey stick skills and baseball throw with interactive exercises. Record your best effort to see how much you’d need to improve to play with your favorite team.

    • Boxing

      See the gloves worn by Jack Johnson, the first black man to win the world's heavyweight boxing title. Then watch his famous 1910 knockout of Jim "the Great White Hope" Jeffries during an outdoor fight in Reno.

      Score! is one of only two places in the world with access to the $100 million ESPN Fight and Film Library, Beckmann said. The other is the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, N.Y.

      The display also features robes worn by Muhammad Ali.

      As you walk through the gallery, the theme from "Rocky" plays overhead.

    • Baseball

      Score! features the nation’s largest collection of game-worn uniforms, Beckmann said.

      Alabama attorney Jock M. Smith, who died this year, collected them. His daughter, Janay Smith of Las Vegas, who is president of Score!, offered the items from her father's collection.

      The display includes several New York Yankees jerseys, including those worn by Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Roger Maris and Lou Gehrig.

      “My family is ecstatic to finally share with the public more than 200 stellar pieces that took more than 25 years to collect," Smith said.

    • For Pete's sake

      A display commemorates record-breaking baseball hitter Pete Rose.

      The Cincinnati Reds star was banned from baseball and its hall of fame because he bet on games while he was a player and manager.

      Today, Rose can often be found in sports memorabilia shops on the Strip selling autographs.

    • Women’s sports

      Score! isn’t just for the boys.

      An exhibit on women's contributions to sports includes the 1999 World Cup trophy won by the U.S. women's soccer team. That was the win that prompted player Brandi Chastain to rip her shirt off at the Rose Bowl.

      "It's rarer than a Super Bowl trophy," Beckmann said. "We wanted women and their daughters to be able to live a part of that history."

      Soccer isn't the only sport represented. Basketball player Lisa Leslie has a tribute next to Michael Jordan's.

    • NASCAR

      The stock car gallery gives visitors a chance to experience what it is like to work on a pit crew. Fans can experiment with tire guns and see how long it takes them to jack up a car.

      "The pit crew does it in 14 seconds. You and I would take about five minutes," Beckmann said.

      The display, sponsored by the Las Vegas Speedway, also includes exhibits of fire suits and videos of the races and crashes in which they were worn.

    • Measure up

      Compare your height to Shaquille O'Neal or stand in Bob Lanier's size 22 shoes. An interactive basketball exhibit even lets visitors see how their Air Jordans match up to Michael Jordan's originals.

    • Career wrapup

      See how your sports career worked out before leaving the exhibit. Did you achieve your goals?

      A computer in a replica locker displays an image of your jersey, your first paycheck, a press release announcing your signing and an announcement for your induction into the hall of fame.

      You can't take the report with you, but you can share it with friends using social media. Fans soon will be able to buy the photos as souvenirs.

      "We really wanted to make this like a Smithsonian meets Disneyland for sports fans," Beckmann said.

    • Sports medicine

      Visitors leave Score! through a model training room that teaches about sports injuries and the effects of steroids.

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