Art Commission Objects to Moving Rocky Balboa Statue to Museum Steps

A push to move the bronze statue of a triumphant Rocky Balboa to the foot of the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps is on the ropes.

Sylvester Stallone donated the statue of himself playing the boxer from the film "Rocky III." Since that 1982 donation, the city has debated where to keep the statue of Rocky with his gloved arms raised. Most recently, a group proposed putting the 8-foot, 6-inch statue at the base of the museum steps that the cinematic icon mounted in the original 1976 "Rocky" movie.

But the city's Art Commission objected to that move Wednesday, questioning its artistic value.

"It's not art," artist Moe Brooker, a member of the city Art Commission. "It was a prop."

The 3-3 vote by the commission's art and architecture committee was not a knockout, but left the proposal down with the referee counting.

Joan Schlotterbeck, city commissioner of public property, who spoke in favor of the site, withdrew the application before it went to the full commission and said she would return and make a new presentation. The commission has said other locations should be considered.

Stallone, who is bringing Rocky out of retirement with a new "Rocky Balboa" movie later this year, has long favored a more prominent location for the statue. It was put on the museum steps for a few months, then moved to the Spectrum in the city's sports complex in South Philadelphia. It later was moved to the Wachovia Center in the sports complex, but has most recently been in storage.

Stephanie Naidoff, city commerce director, said she believed the nine-member Art Commission eventually would approve of the museum site.

"A couple members who support it were not able to be there" on Wednesday, she said.

Stallone, 60, wrote, directed and stars in "Rocky Balboa," the sixth film in the franchise, set for release Dec. 22.