Three Cities Battle To Host George Lucas' $400 Million Star Wars Museum
San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles are all competing for the right to host George Lucas' proposed $400 million Star Wars museum, and it looks like the race is going to go down the wire. After Lucas' preferred location of San Francisco's scenic Presidio neighborhood was turned down, the door has been opened for the likes of Chicago and L.A to make their case in a competition that is rapidly becoming more fierce than a Sith training program.
The proposed 'Lucas Cultural Arts Collection' will house a staggering array of artefacts from across the LucasFilm universe, although the emphasis will unsurprisingly center around the recently-rejuvenated Star Wars franchise. As well as previously unseen treasures from George Lucas' private collection, the museum is expected to feature works from the likes of Norman Rockwell and, of course, Ralph McQuarrie. The chance to pay homage to the greatest sci-fi product in Hollywood history is sure to be a big draw for fans across the world, so it's no wonder the competition is fierce.
As NPR reports, Lucas is ready to foot $300 million of the upfront costs for the museum, leaving the potential host cities to prove their worth by offering up some of the most prime locations in their metropolitan areas.
Despite park officials rejecting Lucas' original Presidio proposal, San Francisco officials remain confident they can secure the Lucas Collection for their city citing the bay area's strong influence throughout the illustrious history of the LucasFilm studio.
"Digital Arts, through George Lucas' wonderful works started here," argues San Francisco Mayor, Ed Lee. "To have that museum right here under his name would be a wonderful tribute to that. It is our history, and that's why we want George to be here."
[San Francisco's Embarcadero would be a fitting spot for a Star Wars Museum]
To match his emotive words, Lee has secured an impressive spot right on Embarcadero which overlooks the scenic Bay, but the team leading the Chicago bid believe they can go one better, offering up a waterfront location of their own, right in the heart of the city's Museum Campus all for the humble price of a $1 lease.
But with Los Angeles also entering the fray with the offer of a large plot of land in the centrally located Exposition Park, what does the Windy City team believe will get them over the line?
[Would a Star Wars museum feel at home alongside the likes of Chicago's Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium?]
"I believe the force is with us," says Chicago official Kurt Summers. "We are the protagonist in sort of a good versus evil. We engaged fully, and that created real competition. The result of that [is] we saw San Francisco step up its game as well."
Chicago, though, is a city that boasts more than just a strong desire to win this bid. The city has strong ties to the Lucas family. George's wife, Mellody Hobson is a prominent force in Chicago and he has often called the Windy City his home away from home. Whether or not that will be enough to win the day, remains to be seen.
However, with all this talk about relevance to the franchise, I might offer one other suggestion. No city can claim to have stronger ties with the Star Wars franchise than London, England. Pinewood Studios, located in the heart of London's sprawling suburbs has played host to production on every single entry into the Star Wars cinematic saga to date. When it was announced that this relationship between the legendary studio and the ultimate space opera would continue through Episodes 7-9, the bond was undeniable. Perhaps this is just sentiment, or perhaps it is because I am a Londoner living in the US, but I can't help but think that a Lucas Cultural Arts Collection so close to the studio that brought George's vision to life would be wonderfully poetic, if not wildly unlikely.
[The Episode VII cast reads through the script at Pinewood Studios]