Organizers believe their Oct 23 gala and auction, beginning at 8:30 p.m. at Tower Square,1500 Main St., will generate even more buzz. According to Don Courtemanche, executive director of Springfield's Business Improvement District, "All 19 sneakers should inspire lively local bidding but there's one sneaker we believe may generate some national interest."
He's referring to the Basketball Hall of Fame sneaker that was autographed by many of this year's Hall of Fame honorees from the 1960 and 1992 US Men's Olympic Basketball teams. 1960 autographs include Walt Bellamy, Oscar Robertson and Warren Womble. The 1992 "Dream Team" signatures include Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, and John Stockton. The 6-foot signed sneaker has been on display at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame since August and has been a very popular attraction.
"We are so pleased that the Hall of Fame and our wonderful Hall of Famers are able to support this great cause" said John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. "The Community Foundation does an outstanding job supporting local organizations and we hope that this truly unique piece of artwork adds to the great success of the auction."
Proceeds from the auction will be deposited into a fund that has been established at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. The Art & Soles Fund will be used to support youth working with adult artists to create public art in Springfield.
Maryann Lombardi, of UMass Amherst and the Greater Springfield-UMass Amherst Partnership believes the autographed sneaker could significantly boost the size of the fund. "Recently, the Red Sox organization auctioned off six license plates and generated $250,000 for its charitable endeavors. Who knows how high the bidding might go for a 6-foot sneaker featuring the autographs of many of the game's greatest players?"
Inspections of the sneakers are going on now downtown Springfield. The Hall of Fame signed sneaker can be viewed at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame or at www.hoophall.com.
For more information on Art & Soles and the Auction visit: www.artandsolesspringfield.com.
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