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Originally published Friday, February 14, 2014 at 4:58 PM

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Guest: The state needs a sports museum

The Seahawks Super Bowl win should be a focal point in a combined state sports museum and hall of fame. Unfortunately, one doesn’t exist, writes guest columnist J. Paul Blake.


Special to The Times

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The Seattle Seahawks’ magnificent run to a Super Bowl title adds another chapter, arguably the greatest, to Washington state’s sports history. The team’s remarkable story should be a focal point in a combined state sports museum and hall of fame.

Unfortunately, a home for the collective history of professional and amateur sports in the state of Washington doesn’t exist. The time is right to build one.

From Pee Wee and Little League, to high-school and intercollegiate athletics, to professional competition, competitive sports are part of American culture.

Witness the absolutely incredible celebration of the Seahawks Super Bowl championship. The Seahawks fans who lined downtown streets would be thrilled to have an up close encounter with the Lombardi Trophy.

More than ever, Seattle is the ideal location to build a Washington State Sports Museum and Hall of Fame to celebrate the past, and future, of sports in Washington state.

The museum’s design and displays could take advantage of the region’s technology expertise and creative skills to create a family-friendly venue with areas for meetings, instructional activities and catered events. Tourists from around the country and the world would learn about the region’s passion for hydroplane racing and competitive rowing in addition to the more high-profile sports.

Permanent installations, exhibits, special events and programs could coincide with the change in seasons, which would make the museum attractive for repeated visits.

The possibilities are endless. The museum could be designed for visitors of all ages to learn by doing, viewing, listening and reading. Patrons could have the opportunity, via interactive displays and stations, to test their basketball, football, baseball, soccer, bowling and other skills. Future sportscasters could play anchor for preprogrammed events.

Managed by a nonprofit sports museum and hall of fame foundation, the facility could include shared office space for sports federations and athletic associations that would lease space and benefit from inclusion in an attractive, efficient and dynamic home base for all things sports.

I first presented the idea six years ago to representatives of local professional sports franchises, universities and athletic associations. They were receptive to the idea.

There is a deep pool of material and events to sustain a venue: the potential return of NBA basketball and the possibility of an NHL franchise, the successful Seattle Storm franchise, the enthusiasm for Seattle University’s return to NCAA Division I competition, intercollegiate programs, the achievements of resident Olympians and a statewide interscholastic program.

As a major addition to the area’s tourist attractions, a steering committee could pursue seed funds from the state Legislature and seek creative proposals, including a public-private partnership to build the facility. A groundswell of public support could be instrumental in getting the project off the ground. Fans can show their support by visiting an online petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/washington-sports-museum-and-hall-of-fame.

It’s going to happen one day. Why not now? Let’s get the ball rolling.

J. Paul Blake lives in Renton.




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