The summer tourism season begins Memorial Day weekend, with businesses and attractions getting set for a better year now that COVID is beginning to dissipate.
After a run of team cancellations earlier in the year, the Dreams Park baseball camp announced new protocols Monday, May 24.
The baseball camp in Hartwick Seminary will open Friday, July 23, with no restrictions on social distancing or mask wearing. However, they will be requiring a vaccine for all participating children and adults.
Dreams Park said on their website that the 2021 season would be the “first step toward a full reopening in 2022.”
Todd Kenyon, director of communications at the Fenimore Art Museum, said that he was optimistic about the upcoming summer and fall seasons.
“There’s always the unknown, but I can feel that people want to get out,” Kenyon said. “I’m hopeful they visit Cooperstown.”
With tourism dealt another pandemic-related blow last week, Otsego County’s leaders are increasingly turning to outdoor adventures to lure visitors.
“We’re actually in the process right now of trying to launch a massive campaign to tout our outdoor adventure,” said Cassandra Harrington, executive director of Destination Marketing Corporation, which promotes tourism in Otsego and Schoharie counties.
Harrington said the tourism news has been mostly dismal in the week since Cooperstown Dreams Park announced it would require all teams playing at the park’s summer tournaments to be vaccinated for the coronavirus pandemic. The uncertainty of getting vaccinations for children and a hard refund deadline has left dozens of teams in a catch-22, leading to hundreds of reported cancellations.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s winter announcement that it was moving its postponed 2020 Induction Weekend to a virtual event, had already crushed pre-pandemic hopes for a record sized crowd for Derek Jeter’s induction.
However, the reopening of the baseball parks, Dreams Park in Hartwick Seminary and Cooperstown All-Star Village in West Oneonta, was a big pillar of the county’s hopes for a renewed summer of tourism. All-Star Village has not announced similar vaccination requirements for its teams, but the Dreams Park changes make its June opening unlikely, Harrington said.
“Now that the bottom fell out with Dreams Park, our accommodations are dealing with a flood of cancellations,” she said. “So, we really need those outdoor visitors more than ever.”
Those are the two concepts people in government and the tourist industry are using in discussing the news that the two youth-baseball camps, Dreams Park in Hartwick Seminary and All Star Village in West Oneonta, are seeking permission to open someway, somehow, in the 2021 season.
“If they can conform to the state’s requirements and do it safely, they should be allowed to open,” said Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch. Others interviewed echoed her sentiment.
Dreams Park is planning to extend its season from May to September, with fewer players, who would stay on-campus, as in the past. (Early, it was incorrectly reported that the players would stay off-campus.)
All must present negative COVID tests on arrival. Dreams Park’s local lawyer, Gar Gozigian, is looking for state Health Department guidance and permission to proceed.
All Star Village issued a more general statement, saying it would implement all health and safety measures, and concluding, “As things change we are confident restrictions will expire and we will update.”
ONEONTA – Citing Governor Cuomo’s restrictions on overnight camps and other social-distancing measures, Cooperstown All-Star Village has announced that the remainder of the 2020 season has cancelled.
“We feel it will not have the same wonderful feeling, filled with memories that will last a lifetime,” Patton wrote in a statement on the camp’s website. “It’s important for us to deliver a safe and memorable experience for all in attendance. After considering all the possible alternatives we have regrettably made the decision to cancel the 2020 Season.”
WEST ONEONTA – Week 2 of the All Star Village 2020 season – June 13-19 — has been cancelled, the youth-tournament venue’s proprietor, Marty Patton, announced this morning.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our country at large, regrettably, we will not be able to deliver the ultimate Cooperstown experience your team and families have been looking forward to,” Patton wrote to Week 2 families across the nation.
ONEONTA – Cooperstown All Star Village has cancelled its youth baseball tournament for the week of June 6, Week One of its 2020 season, proprietor Marty Patton said this morning.
A letter to the 70 teams scheduled for the first week will be going out later this week.
For now, he said, the idea is to continue to cancel a month in advance, week by week, in hopes of being able to hold at least some of the tournaments later in the summer, depending on how the coronavirus threat plays out.
“To the local community, I just say this: Brenda and I have lived here most of our lives. We would never risk our community or those wonderful people who are coming from all over to visit,” Patton said.
WEST ONEONTA – Marty Patton, owner of Cooperstown All-Star Village, today announced the youth-baseball park has put together a flexible plan that may allow it to function through the 2020 season.
“We have decided to make a decision regarding the 2020 tournament… four weeks in advance of each week,” Patton wrote in a public letter. Players’ families and coaches will then be advised if the tournaments will happen the weeks they are registered.
COOPERSTOWN – County Emergency Task Force chairman Allen Ruffles today said he has been assured by Marty Patton, owner of Cooperstown All-Star Village in West Oneonta, that there are no plans to cancel the summer season, at least for now.
All-Star Village – as well at Coopertown Dreams Park in Hartwick Seminary, which Friday announced it is cancelling it 2020 season – together fuel the county’s youth-baseball camp sector, which together inject millions of dollars annually into the local economy.
At noontime today, Maskot’s, across Route 28 from Dream Park’s entrance in Hartwick Seminary, had a full parking lot, and servers, from left, Josie Furnari, Cooperstown, and Ally Baker and Leeza Shultz, both of Oneonta, were greeting customers. That’s because Dreams Park and Cooperstown All-Star Village players and their families are arriving today, in anticipation of Saturday’s 7:30 a.m. opening ceremonies. By summer’s end, some 200,000 will be attracted by the youth baseball parks alone. Inset left, Wood Bat Factory manager Chrissie Bridger adds orange highlights to the store’s sign, among businesspeople on Otsego County’s “baseball strip” adding highlights at the season begins. License plates were spotted from Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania. (Thomas Rhodes & Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)