New York The elevator ride to the first exhibit at the new Sports Museum of America sets the tone.
"I don't believe what I just saw!" Jack Buck exclaims of Kirk Gibson's 1988 World Series home run, one of the famous calls played during the short trip.
The museum, which opens today in Lower Manhattan, counts on enough people getting chills from seminal sports moments to make the for-profit venture a success.
"We've got to get everyone who comes to New York to, among other things, want to see the Sports Museum of America," museum founder and CEO Philip Schwalb said.
Tourists walking out of Battery Park after visiting the Statue of Liberty or getting their photo taken with the "Charging Bull" sculpture aren't likely to miss the 24-foot pictures of Babe Ruth, Jesse Owens and other great athletes that will fill windows in the Standard Oil Building, the museum's home.
Sprawling across 100,000 square feet in the landmark building is everything from the car Jimmie Johnson used to win the 2006 NASCAR series title to Billie Jean King's fourth-grade report card. Baseball, basketball, football and hockey are represented, as are bowling and skateboarding.
Ticket prices range from $20 to $27. Schwalb is hoping for 1 million visitors in the first year.
For such a sports-crazed nation, it may seem surprising that a museum like this doesn't already exist. Schwalb believes the potential conflict with the existing individual sports halls of fame made such a project unfeasible.
His solution was to form partnerships with various halls as well as other organizations like national governing bodies. The Sports Museum receives artifacts and mailing lists for marketing efforts in exchange for promoting the organizations and donating money to them each year.
The museum's contracts with the 62 entities require that they won't form a partnership with any other groups attempting to form a national sports museum. The museum could have accumulated quality artifacts without the help of the halls of fame, Schwalb said. But it would be difficult to acquire the rights to many of the clips used in the 20 films shown throughout the museum.
"The leagues would shut you down," he said.
The site also includes two museums within the museum. It serves as the permanent home of the Heisman Trophy and houses the Billie Jean King International Women's Sports Center.
Along with the many jerseys and pieces of equipment from star athletes, exhibits include artifacts ranging from the iconic to the intimate.
"We're trying to make it very personal, more than the average museum," Schwalb said.
There's the American flag that was draped on goalie Jim Craig after the Miracle on Ice.
The $2 bill that running back Curtis Martin stuffed into his sock for good luck. He had gotten it from his grandmother.
The sports bra Brandi Chastain exposed after scoring the winning penalty kick at the 1999 World Cup.
Bricks used in building the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a century ago.
No matter how impressive the artifacts at a museum, "That's not the most important thing anymore," Schwalb said.
The key to attracting visitors is interactive exhibits.
Museum officials spent a day with the New York Rangers creating one such exhibit. Cameras were placed on the net and on the mask of goalie Henrik Lundqvist, and players took shots in a variety of situations.
The result is that museum visitors can put their face into a goalie mask and see a video of a puck flying toward them, with former Rangers goalie Mike Richter providing commentary.