Baseball events carry an outsized economic role in pair of rural communities
Loss of marquee events will result in tens of millions in economic losses
Consideration of non-summer timings or fanless events quickly rejected
Around this time each year, Main Street in bucolic Cooperstown, New York, begins to get busier with tourists from around the world in advance of the even larger throngs that will descend on the town in late July for the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Induction Ceremonies.
In recent years, Induction Weekend alone has meant crowds in excess of 50,000 in the upstate New York town with a year-round population of less than 2,000 people. And this year, local merchants, lodging owners, and other business people lining Main Street and the adjacent Otsego Lake were eagerly anticipating an historic influx of fans, perhaps approaching 100,000, looking to see an induction class headlined by popular former New York Yankees icon and current Miami Marlins chief executive Derek Jeter be enshrined.
But due to ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the recent cancellation of the 2020 Induction Weekend and ongoing closure of the Hall of Fame itself, Main Street in Cooperstown is now largely deserted, and will be for the duration of the upcoming summer.
“My best guess is that we may ultimately lose a quarter to a third,” of local hospitality and retail businesses, says Allen Ruffles, treasurer for Otsego County, which includes Cooperstown. “You go walking down Main Street in Cooperstown right now, and everything is closed.
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