Monday, July 21
New York Landmark's Closing Leaves Heisman Homeless
NEW YORK -- The red awning still hovers over the sidewalk at 19 West Street, claiming this as the official "Home of the Heisman." But the canopy is dirty and faded.
And the doors to enter the building are boarded up.
Heisman portraits will be placed in storage, but for now lean against a second-floor wall.
There was a time when this address was the center of the nation's sports focus. But that will never happen again.
At least not here.
Plagued by financial troubles since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks leveled the nearby World Trade Center, the Downtown Athletic Club turned over its mortgage last week to this New York landmark, alleviating itself of escalating debt but leaving the Heisman all but homeless.
There are now 60 days to clean up, pack 68 years of history into cardboard boxes and move out.
The club itself, which opened its doors in 1930 and five years later created the award, will be all but gone.
The 73-year-old DAC building needs over $20 million in renovations.
The club solicited help from its members, but only 200 of the 900 letters it sent out were answered. Later, the club invited 500 members to a financial meeting to discuss the club's future. Sixty showed up.
And despite the deep pockets of several former Heisman winners, the DAC had little interest in reaching its hand out and asking for donations.
"I think a lot of them associate themselves more with the trophy than the club, and for us to ask any of them to just hand a private club a couple million just wasn't right."