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by Emily Marie
Bronx, New York
December 22, 2003
The Soccer Hall of Fame is a 5-10 minute ride away from downtown. It is a single building located in a large, empty field with some of New York's mountains visible in the distance. There are fittingly a few soccer pitches in this field surrounding the museum building.
The exterior of the building is a sight in itself. It is a short neo-modern building with a larger-than-life soccer ball busting through the side facing the closest highway.
Once you enter the building, you are in a large, white lobby. In contrast, once you enter the Hall itself, the room is large, but very dark. Most of the displays are on the main level with some stuff on a mezzanine level. When you enter the main hall and go to the left, there is a wall describing the creation and evolution of soccer as a game. As you walk around the room, it shows the history of U.S. soccer in chronological order, from the first U.S. Olympic and World Cup teams through the North American Soccer League of the 70s and 80s and up to the MLS and WUSA. The uniforms of all the MLS teams are on display here and there are areas dedicated to the current U.S. stars, and the Women's World Cup is on display, in honor of the U.S. victories.
The Hall of Fame itself is in a small corner of this room. There are no metal plaques like those in Cooperstown, but instead small photos and descriptions of the inductees.
The mezzanine also has some displays, but what is best on this level is a collection of hands-on areas. There are numerous virtual reality soccer games and stations where children can try to test their soccer skills up here. A small soccer pitch is also up here, big enough for about a 3-on-3 game of the world's sport.
I find this museum a major disappointment. Like its baseball counterpart, this Hall of Fame focuses on soccer as an American game. It's easy for baseball to get away with such a notion, but it's a tough pill to swallow when discussing soccer. Yet that's what they try here, focusing on the U.S. leagues and barely mentioning the likes of the English Premier League. Even the shop has a pro-U.S. feel (I collect soccer jerseys, so I was let down by this). If this is the price for calling this place the "National" Hall of Fame, I'd live well without that moniker. This Hall of Fame does a good job honoring U.S. soccer stars, but as a fan of the game as a whole, I felt cheated out of a lot of history.
From journal Baseball Mecca: Cooperstown and upstate New York
Fort Johnson, New York
July 23, 2000
From journal Baseball and more in Cooperstown NY