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Sports Museum of Los Angeles: Build It and They Won't Come

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The Sports Museum of Los Angeles opened with much fanfare on November 28th last year, but just three months later has already closed its doors to the general public, according to the Downtown News.

Angelenos seemed stoked to have such a museum in town, particularly one that could pay homage to our city's rich and diverse sporting history. The Museum's lone Yelp review is a glowing one, as the Yelper declares "This is what I always wanted in Southern California," and bestowing thanks upon owner Gary Cypres.

Cypres is the man behind not only the Museum, but the $30 million worth of memorabilia it houses as well, and the walls in which it is housed; the items are his own private collection and he owns the 1900 S. Main Street building. The Downtown News explains:

Cypres said he had hoped for a minimum attendance of 500 people per day, at least on the weekends. Instead, he said last week, he got maybe 100. “I subsidize the whole thing; it’s not like the city helps or we have a bunch of trustees who contribute to it, and unfortunately given the current economics and attendance levels, it didn’t seem like now was the time to keep it open to the public,” Cypres said.

Cypres has opted to keep the Museum open for groups of 15 or more by appointment, and for private events, rather than rethink the whole enterprise or shut down completely. Although the Museum's site says they will re-open this summer to the general public, Cypres, who views his Museum and collection as a hobby, did not offer a specific date.
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The country's financial woes have made other attractions like our Sports Museum in other cities vulnerable, along with other arts and culture venues here in Los Angeles:

The Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo recently cut its hours and the Center Theatre Group postponed a summer show at the Mark Taper Forum to 2010 for financial reasons (though CTG officials stressed that the move was precautionary, not the result of a budget shortfall). Additionally, the Museum of Contemporary Art has had to trim staff, slash its budget and temporarily shut down the Geffen Contemporary annex.

Many of the recession-related woes are being felt behind the scenes however, for local museums and theatres, as layoffs aid in the slimming of operation costs. Unfortunately, when budgets are tight, enriching our knowledge about history, art, and culture becomes a luxury, and, as the Sports Museum exemplifies, becomes more disposable than income itself.