Mega-collector Cypres opens Sports Museum of L.A.

There may a very small number of individuals with a sports memorabilia collection more impressive than that of Los Angeles-based businessman Gary Cypres. But none of them can boast of a more impressive facility to showcase it.

Cypres pulled back the curtain Nov. 19 on the Sports Museum of Los Angeles, a jaw-dropping compilation of unique and historic pieces of memorabilia. The museum, located roughly one mile from the Staples Center and the city’s convention center, encompasses more than 32,000 square feet and features more than 10,000 items, each personally acquired by Cypres during his 25 years of collecting. While there are several thousand trading cards on display – including a T206 Honus Wagner – there is also a dizzying array of memorabilia ranging from game-used Babe Ruth items to pieces of sports equipment dating back to the 1800s.

Cypres spent five years and more than $1 million to convert a former office building into the museum. The items within the museum are estimated to be worth nearly $30 million. It opens to the public Nov. 28, but Cypres hosted a special preview event Tuesday for dozens of media members and other VIPs.
The museum is more than just a few high-end items of an individual collection on display. Jan Perry, city councilwoman for the 9th district of Los Angeles, called the museum “a cultural gem.” Patti MacJennett, senior VP of marketing for the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the museum will be “a significant addition to visitor traffic for downtown, and L.A. as a whole.”

This is not the first time people have had the opportunity to view Cypres’ collection. It’s been on display for invited guests for the past several years. Now, he has taken the next step of creating a public museum. “Sports is such a big part of our society, and this is a way to tell the history behind sports,” Cypres said. “I want kids to appreciate that history.”

In addition to being open to the public, Cypres wants non-profit organizations to utilize the museum for fund-raising events. He doesn’t charge those organizations to use the facility, because he said he hates seeing so much of the money raised at special events to have to go to paying for facility rental.
Despite its massive size, Cypres said he’s already working on expansion plans for the museum. He claims he has enough material to fill another 15,000 square feet on the facility’s second floor, but needs some zoning approvals from the city before going forward. Hockey, boxing, soccer and swimming are just some of the sports that would be featured in the expanded facility, as well as an exhibit celebrating sports-themed feature films.

Admission is $17.50 for adults, $14 for seniors and students, $11 for children 5-12. More details on the facility are available at www.sportsmuseumla.com.

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