How the Sports Museum was Created

Morley Brotman was a longtime civic booster and sports enthusiast in Tacoma and back in the late ’50s he was encouraging the construction of a convention center. When the concept of a mini-dome came into being, the Tacoma Athletic Commission held a Morley Brotman Night in 1980 at which time they raised $25,000 to be used for the public relations campaign for the dome bond issue.

After a successful vote, there was still $25,000 in this fund and so the money was put in a special trust fund to be overseen by the TAC and earmarked for a sports museum. In the ’80s there was talk of a sports museum in Tacoma but nothing ever materialized. In 1988 Marc Blau and Clay Huntington decided to tackle the project and spent about a year working on it behind the scenes by arranging for an architect, working out an agreement with the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma Dome management, and looking into potential financing.

The first foundation approached was the Cheney Foundation. Elgin Olrogg, who was the Executive Director at the time, immediately enbraced the idea and once the Cheney Foundation came through with a $35,000 contribution, the project was on its way. The next major contribution came in the form of a $50,000 commitment from the Elbert Baker Foundation, and through the efforts of Roy Kimbel who spearheaded the fund development campaign, additional monies came in from other foundations, businesses and corporations, and individuals. What finally put this project on solid footing, however, was the generous contribution from Fred Shanaman Jr., in honor of his parents and their love for sports.

The whole intent of the sports museum was to recreate the history of sports in the community by chronicling the evolution of each sport through written and visual display. For that reason there are three components to the museum. First is the display of artifacts in the museum itself. Second is a video documentary which is intended to provide an overall flavor of our sports heritage, with an ultimate goal of producing videos on each individual sport. The final component is the publication of a commemorative book on sports which affords greater detail on various events and individual and team accomplishments.

It is appropriate and only fitting that the sports museum be a project of the Tacoma Athletic Commission because of the profound effect that this organization has had in molding our sports heritage over the years. Many of us either don’t know or don’t remember that during the ’50s and ’60s the TAC had over 3000 members and sponsored numerous major events such as the Grid-Go-Round, Hoop-Go-Round, Golden Gloves Boxing, 4th of July Fireworks Show, State of Washington Hall of Fame Banquet, and many more. Sports has always been an integral part of our lives in Tacoma-Pierce County and the TAC did their part to make sure that never changed. The museum simply allows us to preserve the strong sports tradition in our community and build upon it in the years to come.