US Rep. Richard Neal touts House's support for bill creating Basketball Hall of Fame commemorative coin
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, lauded House lawmakers this week for backing legislation that would create a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame commemorative coin in honor of the sport's 125th anniversary.
Neal, who co-sponsored the bill with U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Kentucky, said the proposed coin would pay homage to the game of basketball, which James Naismith created at a Springfield YMCA gymnasium in 1891.
"I have long been a supporter of the Hall of Fame and the great work that they do in the greater Springfield area. They are a terrific organization that works tirelessly to preserve the history and educate people about this truly American game," he said in a statement. "The Basketball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin is the ideal way for the legacy of these great athletes and coaches to be remembered for decades to come."
The Springfield Democrat called the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which originally opened in 1968 at Springfield College and has since moved to the banks of the Connecticut River, one of the many gems in Massachusetts' 1st Congressional District.
Barr also praised the House's Monday passage of the legislation on a voice vote, adding that he hopes it will see similar support in the U.S. Senate soon.
"As the Representative of central and eastern Kentucky, home to the greatest tradition in the history of college basketball and several members of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, I am proud that this legislation has now passed the House," he said in a statement.
John L. Doleva, the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame president and CEO, said his organization is honored and grateful for the strong support the commemorative coin act garnered in the U.S. House.
The legislation, he added, will allow the Basketball Hall of Fame to continue educating fans worldwide about the game and its history.
"A game created in Springfield, Massachusetts has become a global phenomenon and truly a universal language of community, diversity and sportsmanship," he said in a statement. "The Hall of Fame thanks Congressmen Richard E. Neal and Andy Barr for their unwavering support as we celebrate the game that has captured the imagination of fans and players around the globe."
The legislation calls on the Treasury Department to mint and issue up to 50,000 $5 coins, 400,000 $1 coins and 750,000 half-dollar coins in honor of the Springfield landmark.
It further states that the proposed coins be in the shape of a dome and feature the depiction of a basketball. The treasury will hold a competition to determine the rest of the design, which must be emblematic of the game of basketball, according to the bill's description.
Neal's office noted that the proposed commemorative coins would come with no cost to the American taxpayers, with the surcharges on them used to further the museum's curation efforts. Proceeds from the proposed coins would further benefit education programs that promote good sportsmanship and respect on and off the court, it added.
The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate, where U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and John McCain, R-Arizona, are co-sponsors.