It’s called the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Hoop Hall Experience, but what it really could mean for Planet Hollywood is a major attraction to add to the excitement of today’s NCAA tourney semifinals and then some.
"This is simply a celebration of basketball," said Tim Elwell, CEO of HHX (Hoop Hall Experience) as he gave a tour to media members prior to opening the exhibit to the public at noon Friday. "I licensed the rights and formed a relationship with the College Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. It took five years to get all this together and is our labor of love. We wanted to bring the history of basketball to the people. Las Vegas is where we want this to be."
Elwell worked at Paramount Pictures so the tie-in with Planet Hollywood is a natural. "Planet Hollywood is where we wanted to feature this," Elwell said. "This is where celebrities like to go and celebs idolize basketball players. If you are a basketball fan, this is the place to be."
The HHX contains artifacts, interactive games and movie clips highlighting spectacular moments in basketball history. Among the highlights of the museum-like tour are the No. 13 Wilt Chamberlain 100-point jersey, the original 24-second clock and the floor where Michael Jordan took his final shot. "Wilt’s jersey is our most coveted piece," Elwell said. "It sells for over half a million dollars and we had to get it insured for the plane ride here."
The opening of the exhibit at the mezzanine level of Planet Hollywood not only coincides with the Final Four, but with the announcement of the newest inductees to the Hall of Fame scheduled for release at 9 a.m. PT Monday. "We’re hoping with Michael Jordan being announced on Monday that we can bring this exhibit to Chicago," Elwell said. "Other possible inductees Monday are John Stockton, David Robinson and Jerry Sloan."
Tony Cherot, president and COO of Hoop Hall Experience, said he expects from 6,000-8,000 people a week to the tour the exhibit, which is scheduled to stay at Planet Hollywood for at least six months. "It’s not like any basketball exhibit you’ve ever seen," Cherot said. "We have a souvenir shop right next to the exhibit where we sell the actual NBA jerseys along with sweatshirts, wrist bands, hats, pens, basketballs, etc.
It will cost $24.95 for adults to tour HHX, with discounts for seniors and children. Cherot said that basketball celebrities will be at Planet Hollywood every week for the next six months to promote the Hall of Fame. "We had no trouble filling the spots," said Cherot, who said that among the first celebrities to attend would be Dominique Wilkins and Spencer Haywood. There are plans in the works to secure current NBA players along with Jordan and Charles Barkley.
"We are thrilled to have what I think is the greatest collection of basketball merchandise and historical artifacts that you can possibly gather," said David Snock, race and sports manager at Planet Hollywood. "This will be a great perk for our guests and bettors to visit and test out. I think everyone is going to want to shoot free throws on that basketball floor."