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Sunday, February 17, 2013

TriBeCa Jackie Robinson museum is long overdue - and may never open due to rent costs

The Jackie Robinson Foundation has raised only a fraction of the $42 million it says is needed to honor the Brooklyn Dodger who shattered Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

The museum was first slated to open on the ground floor of One Hudson Square in lower Manhattan in 2010.

Instead, its founders are paying $500,000 a year to rent a shell where the 11,000-square-foot exhibition is supposed to be.

...Tax documents reveal the nonprofit spends about $1.3 million annually to rent the vacant first floor and a second-floor space housing the foundation offices. That’s more than the $1.2 million it gave out in scholarships in 2011.

More than a third of that rent expense — $546,000 per year in 2011 and 2012 — goes just to pay for the empty museum space. All told, the group has spent at least $2.1 million since 2007 on space it has never utilized.

The foundation also burned through $613,798 in salaries in 2011, paying president and CEO Della Britton Baeza $229,572 and chief operations officer La’Tonya Johnson $144,694.

The foundation had to take out a $3.8 million mortgage to “finance the foundation’s operation,” according to 2007 tax forms.

“We ran into a difficult period during the market recession,” said civil-rights lawyer Norman Siegel, who’s been on the museum’s board since 1979. “That’s why we’ve had delays.”

Spokeswoman Allison Davis said the foundation needs $20 million for construction and $22 million for an endowment to get the museum to first base.

So far, the nonprofit has raised only $13 million in “firm commitments,” she said.

Thanks to Barnald Bickle

Repoz Posted: February 17, 2013 at 10:56 AM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 17, 2013 at 11:05 AM (#4370963)
Jackie Robinson museum is long overdue - and may never open due to rent costs

we've already got one--it's called Citifield
   2. The District Attorney Posted: February 17, 2013 at 11:09 AM (#4370966)
Bart: I just think our veterans deserve a little recognition.
Lisa: That's what Veterans Day is for, Bart.
Bart: But is that really enough to honor our brave soldiers?
Lisa: They also have Memorial Day!
Bart: Oh, Lisa, maybe you're right, maybe you're wrong... the important thing is that veterans deserve a day to honor them!
Lisa (through gritted teeth): They... have... two!
Bart (quickly): Well, maybe they should have three. I'm Bart Simpson.
   3. Knock on any Iorg Posted: February 17, 2013 at 11:39 AM (#4370976)
Gee, do you think that maybe the most expensive place in the world isn't the best place for a museum that has trouble making ends meet?
   4. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: February 17, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4370987)
The Jackie Robinson Foundation has raised only a fraction of the $42 million it says is needed to honor the Brooklyn Dodger who shattered Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

Too bad the Dodgers didn't issue Jackie #1. Or #0.
   5. Obo Posted: February 17, 2013 at 12:16 PM (#4370989)
Gee, do you think that maybe the most expensive place in the world isn't the best place for a museum that has trouble making ends meet?


Yeah, similar to my first thought. Shouldn't the museum be in Brooklyn anyway?
   6. Tripon Posted: February 17, 2013 at 02:23 PM (#4371034)
This reads more like a scam on people who like Jackie Robinson enough to donate to a museum about him.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: February 17, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4371082)
So ...

$1.3 M rent
$1.2 M scholarships
$0.6 M salaries

That's not a good ratio but, to be fair, most non-profit scams would be spending a lot more on salaries and less on rent. So I'm inclined more towards over-exuberance and questionable decision-making than scam artists ... unless it turns out that the building is owned by somebody connected to the foundation.

Personally $2+ M in scholarships annually and taking that $13 M in "firm" commitments and putting it towards scholarships sounds like a better way to honor Robinson.
   8. Kurt Posted: February 17, 2013 at 05:37 PM (#4371107)
I'm with the DA on this one. How many 42 million dollar museums dedicated to a single person are there?
   9. bobm Posted: February 17, 2013 at 05:49 PM (#4371110)
How many 42 million dollar museums dedicated to a single person are there?

Presidential libraries? The Vatican?
   10. Swedish Chef Posted: February 17, 2013 at 05:58 PM (#4371111)
How many 42 million dollar museums dedicated to a single person are there?

There's quite a few artists where $42M buys you like two works, never mind the rent.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: February 17, 2013 at 10:36 PM (#4371168)
I will say the headline is rather off the mark. If they need $42 M for the museum and they have $13 M in "firm commitments" it ain't the $600,000 a year in rent that is keeping the museum from opening. Obviously a legit question as to why you are renting a $600 K space for a museum you have only 1/3 financed. I can understand that if the right space comes up you grab it even if you are 2-3 years away from opening but this sounds like they are still a long way away.

There's quite a few artists where $42M buys you like two works, never mind the rent.

$42 M does sound like a lot of money for a museum dedicated to a single baseball player. How much does Jackie memorabilia cost? How big is this place? How much would it cost them to have the HoF put together a Jackie exhibit they could display in the space they've got?
   12. Downtown Bookie Posted: February 17, 2013 at 10:49 PM (#4371173)
“We ran into a difficult period during the market recession,” said civil-rights lawyer Norman Siegel, who’s been on the museum’s board since 1979.


I must confess to ignorance on this issue, so I'll ask: Is it normal for a museum that does not yet exist to have a board for over thirty years?

DB
   13. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: February 17, 2013 at 11:25 PM (#4371182)
I'm rather indifferent towards the late Bob Feller's 'get off my lawn' persona, but the Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter, IA is worth visiting (in the event you're driving through Iowa on I-80, or in Des Moines and have a few hours to kill and a rental car.) It sure isn't a $42M museum, or even close to $4.2 M. I'm guessing the appraised value of the surrounding ten blocks around Feller's museum doesn't total $42M. I remember thinking it looked like a small funeral home when I pulled up.
   14. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: February 17, 2013 at 11:31 PM (#4371184)
They should go on Shark Tank to request the other $29 million. They won't get it, of course, but the reactions of the panel would be funny.
   15. Ebessan Posted: February 17, 2013 at 11:48 PM (#4371188)
I have to agree that the SPECIFIC NEED for $42 million screams fraud. You did the cost analysis and it came out at EXACTLY the number intrinsically linked to the subject?
   16. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: February 17, 2013 at 11:54 PM (#4371193)
I have to agree that the SPECIFIC NEED for $42 million screams fraud. You did the cost analysis and it came out at EXACTLY the number intrinsically linked to the subject?

Makes me want to open up a Satan museum and require $666 million in funding.
   17. bobm Posted: February 18, 2013 at 12:08 AM (#4371197)
I will say the headline is rather off the mark.

Quite.

TriBeCa Jackie Robinson museum is long overdue - and may never open due to rent costs


The museum site is located on the northwest corner of Varick and Canal Streets. That cannot be described as part of the TRIangle BElow CAnal.
   18. Kurt Posted: February 18, 2013 at 12:08 AM (#4371198)
The Babe Ruth museum in Baltimore (a few blocks from Camden Yards) isn't any 42 million dollar deal either.

Honest question - are presidential libraries exculsively dedicated to the presidents themselves, or do they have other materials? I've never been to one.
   19. Tuque Posted: February 18, 2013 at 12:45 AM (#4371211)
Is it normal for a museum that does not yet exist to have a board for over thirty years?

Yeah, that specific detail pushed this story from weird to surreal.

I wonder if Norman Siegel's real name is Moonlight Graham.
   20. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 18, 2013 at 01:46 AM (#4371219)
Is it normal for a museum that does not yet exist to have a board for over thirty years?

Might be a case of mission creep. Perhaps they decided the scholarship program wasn't enough and added a museum to the foundation's wish list. Seems like this could have been incorporated into CitiField or its immediate neighborhood. Even if the foundation were to get the museum opened, it's tough to cover operating expenses from admission fees.
   21. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: February 18, 2013 at 02:33 AM (#4371224)
Makes me want to open up a Satan museum and require $666 million in funding.

Finally, a place where Barry Bonds can get a fair vote.
   22. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 18, 2013 at 03:13 AM (#4371228)
I was driving through Canada, looking one morning for a functioning library with internet and email and stumbled on the Tim Horton Museum in some town with a population of 9,000. It consisted of three old-time railroad carriages and a bunch of memorabilia. Well worth an hour walkthrough, and I'm no hockey fan. It probably cost 30k to set up, and a few bucks a year to run. Nice little find.
   23. ptodd Posted: February 19, 2013 at 01:04 AM (#4371658)
Main purpose for this foundation seems to be to justify the high salaries of the CEO and COO.

Not sure we need a museum for Jackie Robinson, the HOF should suffice.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: February 19, 2013 at 03:13 AM (#4371685)
three old-time railroad carriages and a bunch of memorabilia.

Actually that was the Hockey Hall of Fame.
   25. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 19, 2013 at 09:10 AM (#4371713)
Makes me want to open up a Satan museum and require $666 million in funding.


I hate it when guys like Chris Truby & Albert Belle serve on the boards of museums that don't exit.
   26. Blastin Posted: February 19, 2013 at 10:02 AM (#4371729)
CitiField or its immediate neighborhood


No one is going to a museum in a literal junkyard. But it really could be inside the stadium, promote it during the offseason considering how much money they need, etc etc.

But Citifield doesn't have a "neighborhood" unless you want to count actual Flushing, where they couldn't care less about the Mets. You would think they would market there - it's full of people. But I worked there for a year and a half and I barely saw any orange and blue. It's not to say they can't get crowds to their stadium - they can, and will again if they are good someday. But they all travel from somewhere else.

By contrast, the South Bronx has long been a blighted area, but you know what team is nearby.
   27. Blastin Posted: February 19, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4371730)
They should go on Shark Tank to request the other $29 million. They won't get it, of course, but the reactions of the panel would be funny.


"I think you've severely overvalued your company and I don't think I'd see a single cent of my money back."
"I know the business, and I can tell you, what you're doing is not unique. There are plenty of baseball museums and they don't cost this much money."
"Why would you choose that location if you can't afford it? You don't even have any profit margins."

This is imperfect because it's, you know, a nonprofit.
   28. Bourbon Samurai Posted: February 19, 2013 at 10:55 AM (#4371760)
The problem here is the rent is too damn high.
   29. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 19, 2013 at 11:33 AM (#4371792)
I was driving through Canada, looking one morning for a functioning library with internet and email and stumbled on the Tim Horton Museum in some town with a population of 9,000. It consisted of three old-time railroad carriages and a bunch of memorabilia.


Wait, Tim Horton did something besides make donuts?
   30. phredbird Posted: February 19, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4371807)
The Babe Ruth museum in Baltimore (a few blocks from Camden Yards) isn't any 42 million dollar deal either.


it's the house he was born in. they just fixed it up and then put in some of his memorabilia, iirc.

when i visited, i had my brother take a picture of me bowing down before the entrance.
   31. Ron J2 Posted: February 19, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4371846)
Tim Hortons Museum

Town of Cochrane. ~800 exhibits, many provided by local residents. Reading the description on this page (never been there myself) I wonder whether it's some kind of an elaborate practical joke. Charge $2 to visit random junk.

And #24. The Hockey Hall of Fame is an amazing place to visit. My choice for the best sports HOF. (With the side bonus that it's easy to get to)

#29. He had run a burger joint before getting into donuts. And according to wiki (and thus obviously true) he also had a Studebaker dealership. He seems to have had another part time job on the side.

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