Exclusive look at the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Museum

Exclusive look at the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Museum

by Daniel Olsen |

When Vivint Arena got a makeover a few years ago, the awards and everything else to honor the Utah Sports Hall of Fame inductees were packed up in boxes. They have now found a new home at City Creek Center and sports fans can take a deeper look into sports history in the state, learn about Utah Sports Hall of Fame inductees, and test their sports knowledge through interactive quizzes. We had the chance to speak with board member and former USHOF President Norma Carr. This is her story.

How did the Utah Sports Hall of Fame get started?

In 1967, 18 charter members formed the Old Timers Athletic Association to recognize the great contributors to sports in Utah history. People like Dick Rosetta, Joel Gardner and Norma Carr are some of the people responsible for the Hall of Fame getting to where it is today. Carr was President of the foundation when the Utah Hall of Fame Museum was formed just a few years ago.

“It started just honoring Hall of Famers,” said Carr. “But in 1972 they started honoring coaches too.”

The museum honors anyone who has made a significant impact in sports in Utah and has lived in the state for at least ten years. From high school to college to pro athletes, plenty have contributed. Some have contributed financially; others have contributed as coaches and members of sports media. The athletes are the obvious choice, but sports in Utah is made up of so many people in addition to the athletes.

This isn’t just the Utah football and basketball show; athletes of Olympic sports like track and field, skiing, volleyball – and any other sport you can think of – are honored at the museum.

What is there to do at the museum?

When visitors enter the museum, they will be delighted to learn that they can do so free of charge. They can see walls with pictures of hundreds of inductees. If they wish to know more about a person, there are touch screens where they can select someone and read a short bio. There are also photos and even videos for some of the people. It is a work in progress to get as much information as possible for every person inducted.

After turning the corner, fans can participate in the interactive section. There, they can choose to get their picture taken with a selection of athletes of different sizes. They can see how their height compares to the shortest gymnast or tallest basketball player in the vault. There are also plenty life-size photos of athletes in between for visitors to take pictures with. There is a locker room replica full of uniforms of teams in Utah and fans can try them on and take photos, as well.

If that’s not enough, you can also take a virtual bobsled ride using the museum’s Virtual Reality headsets. There is also a trivia section where you can test your Utah sports knowledge and your general knowledge of a particular sport. There are two sections so you can compete against your friend and see who’s the best sports wizard.

Who are some of the athletes featured in the Utah Sports Hall of Fame Museum?

The museum features some stories that aren’t often widely shared among sports fans across the state.

Vern Law was a baseball player from Utah who enjoyed a successful pitching career. Nicknamed “The Deacon,” Law helped lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to victory over the New York Yankees in the 1960 World Series. He was also a two-time All-Star and Cy Young award winner.

There is also a story about two brothers, Richard and Dave Barnes, who swam English Channel in record time.

Wayne Estes had one of his best games ever and then passed away shortly after in a strange accident while helping someone near an electrical wire. He had aspirations of being in the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers had said they would have taken him if he was available in the NBA Draft that year.

The 1944 Utes championship basketball team hits home for Carr and should for all of us because the events of World War II surrounding this accomplishment are eerily similar to what is going on now with COVID-19. Sometimes, events outside our control change the landscape of a sport and affect fans and players of those schools competing. There is a book that can be purchased at the museum that takes a deep look into this team.

How can visitors get the most out of their experience at the museum?

“Plan some time to listen to some of the stories of the vault,” said Carr. “At the very end of the Hall of Fame we have a section with a list of all the people we have stories for.”

There are so many inspiring stories that aren’t well known especially to younger generations of sports fans in Utah. Kids, young adults and even the older sports fans can add these stories to their sports memory bank.

Make sure to take a visit the next time you’re shopping at the City Creek Center. The museum is located in a building just outside the Nordstrom entrance.

Make sure to vote on our Twitter poll and let us know if you have ever been to the museum. We want to know how many sports fans haven’t yet had the chance to see how great it is. If you haven’t been there, plan to go soon. It is open for visitors to attend free of charge. Remember to wear a mask, use the provided hand sanitizer, and follow social distancing guidelines.

Be sure to visit thehivesports.com each Sunday as we feature one museum inductee every week.

Read some of our past features on USHOF inductees here.

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