Q-A Regarding Proposed Buffalo Sports Museum
October 23, 2012
For Immediate Release
Questions and Answers Regarding
the Proposed North American Museum of Sports and Culture
at the Buffalo NFL Stadium Entertainment Complex
Q: How did the idea for this museum originate?
A: The group proposing to develop the stadium complex approached The Strong and asked if we would be interested in creating and operating a museum as one of the principal anchors there.
Q: Why a museum of sports and culture and not a replica of The Strong’s museum operations in Rochester?
A: Two reasons. First, The Strong’s Rochester facility already serves a broad audience from Western New York and surrounding areas including southern Ontario, and so duplicating it elsewhere in the region would not contribute further either economically or culturally. Second, there is no museum anywhere like the one we are proposing, and it would add a dynamic new economic and cultural dimension to Buffalo and the international Toronto-Buffalo-Rochester region and beyond.
Q: The Strong is a museum about play. Why is The Strong interested in creating and operating the North American Museum of Sports and Culture? Wouldn’t a museum about sports and culture be beyond The Strong’s mission and capacity?
A: No. Participation in sports, whether as a player or a fan, is a form of play. The North American Museum of Sports and Culture would provide an opportunity to further advance The Strong’s fundamental mission to study, explore, and enhance understanding of the critical role of play in human development and of the ways in which play reflects and shapes society.
Q: What would the North American Museum of Sports and Culture include?
A: It would focus on sports, play, competition, and character and include all sports of the region—from football and hockey to fishing and boating and everything in between—and players of all ages, from amateurs to professionals. It would highlight the relationship between sports, art, science, and culture and consider the impact of sports on health and fitness. And it would be highly hands-on and interactive.
Q: Where would the funding come from to build the North American Museum of Sports and Culture? Would The Strong provide it?
A: The Strong is not in a position to provide capital for the project. Our expectation is that such funding would be included within the overall development of the entertainment complex.
Q: Once the North American Museum of Sports and Culture was built, how would it be supported? Would The Strong need to raise money to support its operation?
A: We expect the museum would be essentially self-supporting through admission and program fees, memberships, and other standard and non-standard museum revenue-generating means to be determined.
Q: Are you saying the North American Museum of Sports and Culture would never need to raise money from contributions like almost all other museums do?
A: No. We are not saying it would never raise funds from contributions. We are saying we expect that visitation and programming would support it primarily.
Q: Wouldn’t it compete with other cultural institutions in the Buffalo area for attendance and funding and therefore have a negative impact on them?
A: We are confident it would not. Over the last 15 years, we have expanded The Strong in Rochester physically and programmatically two times, and neither of those expansions has had a negative impact on any other cultural entity. Each time we have expanded, participation in all museums has tended to increase.
Q: What about the children’s museum that is being built in the Buffalo waterfront area? Wouldn’t the North American Museum of Sports and Culture compete with it? After all, The Strong is itself a children’s museum isn’t it?
A: No and no. Although The Strong appeals to and serves families and children, The Strong is not a children’s museum. The Strong is a collections-based history museum, and our exhibits, programs, and experiences go beyond those of children’s museums. Unlike a children’s museum, the North American Museum of Sports and Culture, while highly hands-on and interactive, would also be collections-based and would appeal to people of all ages, especially those of school age through adulthood.
Q: What makes The Strong qualified to develop a museum of this type and scope?
A: The Strong is one of the largest private history museums in the United States, serves a broad and diverse audience of museum guests and other users (including schools, teachers, and scholars) across the country and even internationally; we have twice successfully managed major expansions in Rochester (the latest came in 2006 when we added 110,000 square feet and renovated 50,000 square feet at a cost of $37 million); and each year we draw nearly 600,000 guests from throughout the region and across the country—as many as the Bills draw to all their regular season home games in total. Our programmatic arms already include the National Museum of Play®; National Toy Hall of Fame®; International Center for the History of Electronic Games®; Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play®; and the American Journal of Play®.
Q: How big would the North American Museum of Sports and Culture be?
A: Exact size would depend upon a variety of factors to be determined. We envision that exhibition and other public spaces would be similar in scope to those at The Strong in Rochester, and those include about 150,000 square feet of exhibit and public activity areas.
Q: How large is The Strong in Rochester in total?
A: The Strong’s Rochester facilities include 282,000 square feet, but among those are considerable storage areas that hold the world’s most comprehensive collection of toys, games, electronic games, and other artifacts of play. The North American Museum of Sports and Culture would have some collections storage space but would not need to duplicate that of The Strong in Rochester. Nor would it need to duplicate all the administrative areas of The Strong’s Rochester facility. Hence the North American Museum of Sports and Culture would be able to deliver a full range of engaging exhibits and experiences in a somewhat smaller footprint.
Q: How would the North American Museum of Sports and Culture be operated and managed? Would it be a standalone entity under independent management or would it be managed from Rochester?
A: The North American Museum of Sports and Culture would be managed and operated by a Buffalo-based team that is part of and knowledgeable about Buffalo and its surrounds but that functions under the overall auspices of The Strong from its headquarters in Rochester.
Q: Would the North American Museum of Sports and Culture provide any cultural and educational services other than exhibits, and if so, what?
A: It would provide a full array of museum services, including special events, educational programs and materials for teachers and students, and a variety of community outreach services for audiences such as children and adults at risk or with special needs.
Q: How would the North American Museum of Sports and Culture collaborate with the Bills and other entities in the entertainment complex and nearby?
A: The museum would be open year-round and cooperate with the Bills and other area entities on game days and during various special events to ensure complete operational compatibility in all relevant areas from promotion to parking and security.
Q: Has The Strong done market research on the viability of such a museum?
A: The Strong has not completed a study about this particular museum, but in planning for the expansion of its Rochester facilities, The Strong executed a series of studies that indicate demographics favor success for a museum such as this. We expect additional research to confirm that assumption.
Q: Is there a formal agreement in place between the developers and The Strong?
A: No. So far, we have only proposed the concept in response to the developers’ invitation. Details and formal arrangements depend upon a variety of factors that remain to be worked out and approved. However, we are excited about the possibilities and confident that such a museum would succeed in dynamic fashion.
G. Rollie Adams, PhD
President and CEO, The Strong