Induction Business ‘Inundates’ Oneonta, With More To Come
The Hall of Fame’s 75th anniversary weekend didn’t just stay confined to the streets of Cooperstown.
“It had a very positive impact on our local merchants,” said Barbara Ann Heegan, executive director, Otsego County Chamber. “The restaurants were filled, the mall was very filled.”
“We were super busy,” said Red Caboose owner Tim Masterjohn, who also serves as the board president of the newly formed Destination Oneonta. “When you have that many people coming into an area, it’s inevitable that hotels and restaurants will be packed.”
The induction of former Yankee manager Joe Torre, a local favorite, plus Atlanta Braves pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and manager Bobby Cox, and White Sox Frank Thomas and manager Tony LaRussa brought an estimated 48,000 people into the county, the third-largest crowd in Hall of Fame history. Only the seven-member 1999 class (50,000) – George Brett, Orlando Cepeda, Nestor Chylak, Nolan Ryan, Frank Selee, Joe Williams and Robin Yount – and Ripken/Gwynn in 2007 drew better (75,000).
And it’s only going to get better, or at least stay as good. Next year, Randy Johnson will be on the ballot, and in 2019, Derek Jeter could bring record numbers of fans to the streets of Cooperstown – and Oneonta. Multiple MLB stars will become eligible in the years in between. “People are sharing that they want to come back,” said Heegan.
The Clarion, Courtyard by Marriott and Holiday Inn were completely booked almost a year ago, but still the calls came in. “The week of, people were calling the chamber, trying to see if we could refer them to a hotel room,” said Heegan.
The sunny weather helped. “Everyone I know was just inundated with customers,” said Masterjohn. “Everyone was out walking around, and traffic was definitely noticeable.”
And, seeing that Oneonta still has so much more to offer, many of those visitors have decided to stay for a little while longer to enjoy the start of the Otsego County Fair on Tuesday, July 29. “When they heard we had the fair in town, some people extended their stay,” Heegan said. “It’s such a positive to have those two events back-to-back.”
It’s part of what Destination Oneonta hopes to do in the future. “Induction weekend took the cake,” said Masterjohn, “but our mission is to bring people back even when it’s not an induction – whether to go shopping, visit a brewery or a winery, or just take a day trip. We need to highlight ourselves and show what a great town this is.”