Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is an American history museum and hall of fame, located at 1000 Hall of Fame Avenue in Springfield, Massachusetts. It serves as basketball’s most complete library, in addition to promoting and preserving the history of basketball. Dedicated to Canadian-American physician James Naismith, who invented the sport in Springfield, the Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 1959, before opening its first facility on February 17, 1968. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was established in 1959, without a physical location by Lee Williams, a former athletic director at Colby College. In the 1960s, the Hall of Fame struggled to raise enough money for the construction of its first facility. However, the necessary amount was soon raised, and the building opened on February 17, 1968, less than a month after the National Basketball Association played its 18th All-Star Game. The Basketball Hall of Fame’s Board named four inductees in its first year. In addition to honoring those who contributed to basketball, the Hall of Fame sought to make contributions of its own. In 1979, the Hall of Fame sponsored the Tip-Off Classic, a pre-season college basketball exhibition. This Tip-Off Classic has been the start to the college basketball season ever since, and although it does not always take place in Springfield, Massachusetts, generally it returns every few years.
In the 17 years that the original Basketball Hall of Fame operated at Springfield College, it drew over 630,000 visitors. The popularity of the Basketball Hall of Fame necessitated that a new facility be constructed, and on June 30, 1985, an $11.5 million facility was opened beside the scenic Connecticut River in Springfield. As the new hall opened, it also recognized women for the first time, with inductees such as Senda Berenson Abbott, who first introduced basketball to women at Smith College. During the years following its construction, the Basketball Hall of Fame’s second facility drew far more visitors than ever anticipated, due in large part to the increasing popularity of the game but also to the scenic location beside the river and the second Hall’s interesting modern architecture. In 2002, the Basketball Hall of Fame moved again—albeit merely 100 yards south along Springfield’s riverfront—into a $47 million facility designed by renowned architects Gwathmey Siegel & Associates. Don’t forget to check out this place in Springfield too.
The building’s architecture features a metallic silver, basketball-shaped sphere flanked by two similarly symmetrical rhombuses. The dome is illuminated at night and features 80,000 square foot (7,400 m²), including a Subway sandwich shop, and an extensive gift shop. The second Basketball Hall of Fame was not torn down; rather it was converted into an LA Fitness health club. The current Basketball Hall of Fame features Center Court, a full-sized basketball court on which visitors can play. Inside the building there are a game gallery, many interactive exhibits, several theaters, and an honor ring of inductees. A large theater for ceremonies seats up to 300. The honorees inducted in 2002, included the Harlem Globetrotters and Magic Johnson, a five-time NBA champion, three-time NBA finals MVP and Olympic gold medalist. As of 2011, the current Basketball Hall of Fame has greatly exceeded attendance expectations, with basketball fans traveling to the Hall of Fame from all over the world. Winters in New England can be long and savage, so in 1891 when the P.E. teacher James Naismith had to keep his restless class indoors for months, he was ordered by the head of P.E. at Springfield YMCA to create an indoor game. After just 14 days he came up with basketball, so now Springfield is the site of the Hall of Fame for the world’s second-favorite sport. Since its creation in the 50s 300 of the game’s heroes have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, and this is where you can look back at their sparkling careers. The museum inside is filled with hands-on mini games and shows, with shooting challenges and live skills exhibitions. If you are ever in need of a cabinet maker, click here.