The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum has attracted 18 million tourists to Cooperstown since it opened in 1939. Many of those visitors eat in area restaurants, shop in local gift shops, enjoy breweries, visit museums and other area attractions, go for scenic tours on the Glimmerglass and stay overnight in hotels, bed and breakfasts and nearby campsites.
Baseball contributes significantly to the economic wellbeing of the central New York corridor. However, the region’s love of the game began well before 1939.
Elm Park, now known as Damaschke Field, opened in 1906. Gary Laing, president of the Oneonta Outlaws Baseball Club, Inc., said his park, one of the oldest, active parks in America, owes its roots to the railroad. Laing said, “the train started it all,” and noted that, “the Model T Ford was not invented until 1908.”
Baseball legends, including Babe Ruth and Connie Mack, drew large crowds to Oneonta for semi-pro and exposition games. Because this region was easy to reach by train, Oneonta also became one of the first stops on the minor league ladder for players hoping to work their way into Major League Baseball. In 1966, A players for the Red Sox played on Damaschke Field and, for three decades, starting in 1967, New York Yankee A players called Oneonta home during training season.
Summer Baseball Camps
Cooperstown Dreams Park opened in 1996, followed by the Cooperstown All Star Village in 2003. These two summer baseball camps bring approximately 100,000 tourists to the region every June, July and August
Cooperstown All Star Village Under New Ownership
Marty and Brenda Patton, born and raised in the area, founded Cooperstown All Star Village nearly 20 years ago. They are now minority owners. In 2022, they sold their resort, offering six-day summer camp baseball tournaments for kids 12 and under, to Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, a company that owns the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils. Billionaires Josh Harris and David Blitz saw the value of investing in youth sports; they each have five children. In addition to Cooperstown All Star Village, they also bought Ripken Baseball®, with multiple locations from Maryland to Kentucky.
Rick Abbott is the new CEO of Cooperstown All Star Village and has been on the job for two summers. “I consult with Marty on almost a weekly basis,” he said of the former owner and founder. “His insight is invaluable.” Cooperstown All Star Village welcomed 760 teams in 2023. “Eleven thousand kids and coaches; this year is the largest crowd ever to play at CASV since its inception. The camp expects 40,000 parents, siblings and grandparents to join along. And this year, Abbott noted, will bring about a significant first for the camp. “I am so happy to announce that we will have, for the first time ever, an all-girls team attending CASV this summer,” he said.
Positive Economic Impact
Abbott estimates that “each family spends approximately $5,000 on their summer vacation. That includes the $1,250 per player and per coach camp fees.”
Families from California, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and many other parts of the U.S. fly into Albany and Syracuse airports, rent cars and book accommodations in the Otsego, Delaware and surrounding areas. Approximately 100,000 tourists spending one week in the area to be part of the six-day baseball camp equates to $500 million in revenue for the region.
Supporting Generations of Families
Ken Meifert, vice president, sponsorship and development, has worked for the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum for 29 years. He is grateful for the economic impact baseball has had on this region. “Baseball has provided jobs for many people in our community for many years and will continue to have a dramatic impact on this region,” he said. “Stephen Clark (who started the Hall of Fame) was a visionary.” The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum owns 40,000 three-dimensional pieces of American history, including bats, balls, jerseys, photographs and baseball cards. “Baseball is very much intertwined with the history of the United States,” Meifert said. “We now know that baseball dates back even further than 1839. We also know that Abner Doubleday fought in the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 during the Civil War.”
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