Your favorite team is behind a couple of touchdowns. The clock is running out and every little point, even a field goal, matters. Your team has good field position. The kicker goes to kick and… he misses. That’s when you think, “Oh, good Lord, how hard can it be?!!”
Well, it’s harder than you think. Ditto for spiraling a football into the hands of a running receiver or making a call on a controversial play.
Those who doubt the skill required to play or referee the game should head over to Liberty Science Center for “Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” the latest exhibit to open at the science and technology-oriented museum in Liberty State Park.
In addition to loads of sports memorabilia, which is understandably heavy on items from the Giants and Jets, the exhibit also features a mock digital “training camp,” which allows visitors to test their field goal and throwing abilities, among other skills.
“This is the largest football exhibit that has appeared in the Northeast. It has more than 200 important artifacts relating to the game. And all this comes from the pro-football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio,” said Liberty Science Center President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Hoffman. “It’s an immersive, interactive exhibit. So, yes, there are many artifacts from the game and from our local teams, but, since we are Liberty Science Center, we also have many elements that incorporate science as well.”
What’s on the turf
The exhibit encompasses about 7,000 square feet of space in the museum, Hoffman said.
One interesting installation provides an overview of the history of coach-to-quarterback communication. The installation includes the type of mic’d helmets quarterbacks use today and visitors can hear actual recorded conversations between professional quarterbacks and their coaches.
Visitors can also step into a real referee’s booth and watch a real play from an actual major league football game from the past. Visitors are then given an opportunity to “make the call,” after which the screen then shows the call that was made by the real referees during the game.
A simulated field goal practice booth and separate target throwing area are other interesting interactive features in Gridiron Glory.
Of course, the exhibit also includes loads of jerseys and other memorabilia from such players as Giants quarterback Eli Manning, ex-Pittsburgh Steeler defensive lineman Charles Edward Greene (a.k.a. “Mean Joe Greene”), and former Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas.
Liberty Science Center plans to periodically rotate items in and out of Gridiron Glory during its run, so the exhibit stays fresh and gives people who visit early a reason to see it again. A number of former NFL players will also visit the exhibit from time to time to attract visitors.
Capturing the crowds
In addition to being a fun exhibit for Hudson County residents, local municipalities hope Gridiron Glory will also encourage Super Bowl tourists to come across the river in February for a visit and maybe spend a few hours, and dollars, locally.
An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 people are expected to be in the New York metro area during Super Bowl week next February, but only about 82,566 of them will actually have tickets to see the game live. This means thousands of non-ticketholders will be looking for things to do during Super Bowl week.
The local business community is actively exploring ways it can leverage events and resources in the restaurant and arts/entertainment community to bring tourists to Hudson County.
“This exhibit is open through March, so it will be available to all of the throngs of fans who come into the area,” said Maria L. Nieves, president and chief executive officer of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce. “For local businesses, the opportunity to keep those visitors in Hudson County and make sure that they patronize, not only this exhibit, but also restaurants and other destinations in the area, is going to be really key. So, I’m encouraging our members to really start to think about how they want to market to those folks who are going to be in the area. For our smaller members, it’s really going to be about marketing, marketing, marketing and getting in front of those people.”
Hoffman said a number of businesses have already started booking events and company outings within the exhibition. “Three or four” companies have expressed a specific interest in hosting events within the exhibit during Super Bowl week, Hoffman said.
Visiting the museum
Gridiron Glory opened on Sept. 28 and will remain open through Sunday, March 2, 2014.
General admission to Liberty Science Center for kids and adults ages 13 and older is $25.75. (That admission price also includes a ticket to one Liberty Science Center film.) Children ages two through 12 get in for $19.75. Admission for seniors 65 and older is $22.75.
These admission prices give visitors access to all of the exhibits at the Science Center.
Liberty Science Center also offers an annual membership program for individuals, couples, and families that grants free admission to the museum for an entire year. For more information on Liberty Science Center, membership rates, or its current line-up of exhibits, including Gridiron Glory, visit http://lsc.org.
The Science Center is located at 222 Jersey City Blvd., Jersey City, inside of Liberty State Park.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.