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State comes up with additional money for Eddie Robinson Museum

January 23, 2008 By Nick Deriso GRAMBLING — Organizers were expecting the Secretary of State's office to preview the first plans for a proposed Eddie Robinson Museum. They ended up with an additional $2 million in dedicated state funding for the long-delayed project. "We were elated," said governor-appointed museum board chairman John Belton, "because the extra funds give us the opportunity to design and create a museum that is fit for a great man." Robinson passed away at 88 last April after a nearly decade-long battle with Alzheimer's-like symptoms. He had coached at Grambling State from 1941-98, amassing a still-standing Division I record of 408 career wins in football. A proposal to erect a museum in Robinson's honor had been mentioned as far back as 1999, but only began to rapidly gain momentum after his death. Secretary of State Jay Dardenne initially planned to seek $1.3 million from the Bond Commission for renovation and construction of exhibit space at the former women's gymnasium on the GSU campus. An engineer charged with preparing the plan, however, subsequently reported that more funds were needed in order to complete the project, Belton said. That included needed improvements in handicapped access, bathroom upgrades and the installation of a banquet hall. Dardenne's office announced the additional funding, and will oversee the management of the museum space. Designer Jules Babineaux, of Exhibits Inc. in Scott, presented a preliminary museum draft to organizers, including Belton and local supporters Wilbert Ellis and Ray Higgins. State archivist Sailor Jackson, representing Dardenne, also attended. Among future plans discussed was christening the banquet space, which will be designed to seat 200-250 people, in honor of Robinson's long-time wife, Doris Robinson. "Everybody looked at each other as if to say: 'Isn't that awesome?'" Belton said. "You could hear a pin drop. You have this couple who have been together for years, so they could both be honored together." The proposed Robinson Museum facility is slated to include a 30-person theater, where highlights and archival films from throughout his storied career will be aired; re-creations of Robinson's offices, both at the school and at home; an interactive display with an artificial-turf field — and two statues of the coach, one inside and another in an exterior courtyard. Belton said the plans were still being developed by Babineaux in advance of a planned Robinson Museum Board meeting in February. "I think he's presenting a design that's going to honor Coach Robinson the way he should be honored," Belton said. The commission, he said, is expecting to take physical possession of the gym space later next month. The bid process could begin as early as June, according to Dardenne's office, with construction to follow in August. The secretary of state has said he hoped to celebrate the museum's grand opening in time for Grambling's 2009 football home opener.


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The Eddie G. Robinson Museum is a landmark that officially recognizes the outstanding contributions to the state of Louisiana, the nation, the world and the game of football made by Coach Eddie G. Robinson.  - more

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