November 07, 2008
| by Arlen Schweiger
Some sports fans visit hallowed places like Cooperstown, NY, or Canton, OH, for a dose of nostalgia and memorabilia. This Palm Beach County, FL, homeowner visits his garage. At least it used to be a garage. Now it’s a shrine to his alma mater, the University of Florida, and its ultrasuccessful athletic program. This isn’t your typical fanatic’s room dressed up in school colors—blue and orange may have been too loud—but is a treasure trove of autographed balls, jerseys, trophies and more. It’s also the best seat in the house for watching Gators football and basketball games.
Along with all the collectibles, the room is a championship-caliber home theater. With four displays, 7.2-channel surround sound and touchpanel control, the theater room makes guests feel much more welcome than in the Swamp, the venue where the Gators tend to throttle visiting football teams.
In planning this homage, the homeowner knew he wanted to convert the single-car garage in his new split-style courtyard residence. He turned to electronics systems contractor Audio Advisors of West Palm Beach, as he had worked with president Jeff Hoover’s team on two previous theater installations, including another with multiple displays. Hoover brought in Boca Raton, FL–based theater design firm Acoustic Innovations to assist with the plans.
“I had been doodling around with sports-themed theaters for a while,” says Acoustic Innovations president Jay Miller. “The challenge was to integrate great sound, video and the Gators into the space. When [the homeowner] told me about all the collectibles, I immediately suggested a locker room.” The homeowner initially balked at showcasing his memorabilia in something that resembled a traditional jock hangout, but he embraced the idea when it was presented as more of a classy, country club –style space.
The solution included custom woodwork and shelves for the homeowner to spotlight and safely stow his Hall of Fame–worthy collection. Among the goods in the 13-by-22-foot room are jerseys signed by Heisman trophy winners Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow; replica Heisman statuettes; real championship rings, and replica trophies from Florida’s conference and national titles in football and basketball; game-worn cleats and gloves of Emmitt Smith, Jevon Kearse and Chris Leak; a football from the 2007 BCS championship game between Florida and Ohio State; and a piece of the court on which the Gators basket ball team won the 2007 NCAA crown.
The prized coup—a Dallas Cowboys helmet worn by Smith during the game in which he broke Walter Payton’s career rushing record—stemmed from the homeowner’s interest in electronics. He and Smith had crossed paths at Florida and struck up a friendship when the homeowner impressed the future NFL star with a decked-out van (it included a whopping 56-speaker system) he entered in car stereo competitions.
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.