Corona Hurts Cooperstown
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Corona Hurts Cooperstown

This post is the first in a series of blogs about the implications of the coronavirus pandemic on certain cities that have special significance in the world of sports. This week we focus on Cooperstown, New York.

Welcome to Cooperstown

For any twelve-year-old boy with aspirations of playing on youth baseball’s highest stage, these three words are the equivalent of, “I made it.” The opportunity to play in the legendary Cooperstown Dreams Park or All-Star Village is the stuff of dreams for many who play competitive baseball outside of the Little League circuit.

Cooperstown is baseball’s Mecca, a quaint little town nestled in the rolling, green hills of upstate New York and the home to the Hall of Fame. Legend has it that military officer Abner Doubleday invented the game here in 1839 – a claim that his since been widely debunked. Yet, Cooperstown’s legacy has endured, bolstered by the thousands of fans who visit the Hall each summer and by the creation of two sprawling complexes of baseball fields, barracks, and concession stands where kids from all over the country come to play national tournaments. However, as is the case in much of the world, the summer of 2020 will look a little different.

Corona Cancellations

Despite the insistence of many – including myself – that baseball is a fundamental part of spring, summer, and life in general, the game unfortunately doesn’t qualify as an essential service. That means the doors to the Hall are locked. The Dreams Park complex has already canceled its entire 2020 season, and All-Star Village is evaluating the viability of each of its weekly tournaments on a rolling 4-week basis – the odds aren’t high that any games will continue as scheduled.

The reality is that Cooperstown is really best served in the summer. If the nationwide response to COVID-19 continues as anticipated, it’s highly unlikely baseball fans will be able to make their “trip of a lifetime” to see the game’s hallowed grounds. For a town that thrives off of its baseball-centric legacy, the main drivers of economic demand have temporarily evaporated.

By The Numbers

Here’s a breakdown of how baseball events affect the economy of Cooperstown:

  1. Approximately 285,000 fans visit the Hall of Fame every year.
  2. Roughly 5% of these guests visit during the Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, when the town typically hosts between 30,000 and 50,000 visitors for the Induction Ceremony.
  3. Approximately 500,000 visitors travel to Cooperstown Dreams Park every year to attend the various weeklong tournaments hosted throughout the summer.
  4. An additional 50,000 visitors attend All-Star Village and other local baseball tournaments every summer.
  5. In 2019, the baseball season accounted for $30 million of the $50 million in annual revenue taken in by Otsego County hotels and rental properties.
  6. Tourists account for nearly $400,000 in annual parking revenue for the village.
  7. Otsego County businesses averaged $21 million in revenue per month during baseball season and $16 million per month during the rest of 2019.
  8. Baseball tourism accounts for nearly $6 million in extra tax revenue per year for Otsego County.

With public health measures in place to restrict the spread of COVID-19, the region faces a likelihood that these economic metrics may decline by more than 90%.

How Can We Help?

While the summer of 2020 likely won’t provide any opportunities to visit baseball’s legendary home, plan a trip for 2021. You have time to save up! Turn it into a surprise and take a family member or loved one with whom you share a special baseball bond. The coronavirus pandemic has taught us to appreciate every opportunity we have to create lasting memories – nowhere is that opportunity more readily available than walking the streets of Cooperstown.

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Written by John Hayes