By Denise Richardson
Fans seeking lodgings starting Friday for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend might find rooms if they are lucky or look outside Cooperstown.
Reservations, which required a two- or three-night minimum, have been unavailable for one to three months, reception staff at three local establishments said Sunday, and options are for the weekend are limited. The demand for rooms is a good sign for business, they said.
Shortstop Barry Larkin of the Cincinnati Reds and Ron Santo, the late five-time Gold Glove winner, will be inducted at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, and more than 40 Hall of Famers are expected to attend weekend events. The Hall of Fame Awards Presentation at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Doubleday Field will be followed by the Parade of Legends on Main Street.
The focal point of accommodations has been a Saturday-night reservation as part of a multinight stay.
"We just had one cancellation," Bob Ghegan, manager of LakeView Motel and Marina in Cooperstown, said at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
But that Friday-Saturday availability will be taken soon, he said, and he will continue to direct callers to the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce for help.
Visitors likely will have to go to Sharon Springs, Richfield Springs, Oneonta and other outlying communities to find accommodations, Ghegan said.
The Cooperstown area has about 2,000 rooms distributed among almost 200 providers, the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce website said.
A search Sunday night at the chamber site for accommodations this July 21 weekend listed about 15 establishments, including hotels, motels, inns, campgrounds and bed & breakfasts. However, some have restrictions such as minimum stays.
The Lake View on state Highway 80 has a two-night minimum, compared with a three-night minimum stay required at some other local establishments, Ghegan said.
The Lake View is full almost every weekend during the summer, Ghegan said, and by far, the greatest economic engine driving that result is the Cooperstown Dreams Park baseball camp. The motel's website said accommodations include about 35 guest rooms, plus cottages and suites.
Scott Butler, desk clerk at the Red Carpet Inn & Suites on state Route 28 in Cooperstown, also said Induction Weekend is important for business, but rooms at the inn on state Route 28 are filled many weekends by Dreams Park visitors.
"Summer is busy to begin with," Butler said. Red Carpet has no rooms available Saturday, he said, and he also refers callers to the chamber.
John Dick, assistant desk clerk at the 17-room Tunnicliff Inn at 34-36 Pioneer St., said Induction Weekend "brings a lot of business to Cooperstown," and the village would benefit economically from another weekend that is as busy. MAB Celebrity Services is a major visitor for the weekend at the Tunnicliff, which is within walking distance of the Hall of Fame, he said.
MAB Celebrity Services, formed in 2003, is presenting many Hall of Famers for autograph opportunities at designated times through its Hall of Fame Spectacular at the Tunnicliff Inn from Friday to July 23, the New Jersey firm's website said.
The 74-room Holiday Inn Express Cooperstown on state Route 28 in Hartwick requires a three-night stay and has been sold out on Induction Weekend for about three months, staff team leader Marian Santoro said Sunday. While most Hall of Famers stay in Cooperstown, she said, retired coaches and their families have stayed at the Holiday Inn.
The weekend is exciting because of its baseball focus and opportunities to meet visitors from other states, she said.
"I look forward to it every year -- I'm a people person," Santoro said. Last year, Cal Ripken Jr. stopped in to meet an associate, she said. "I got his autograph," she said.
At the Hampton Inn in Oneonta, a couple of rooms are available Friday, but none is open for Saturday, front desk receptionist Alyssa Hite said.
"Even though we're not in Cooperstown, we definitely do see a lot of business happening in Oneonta," Hite said. Many guests are arriving from other states, including as far away as California, she said, and the 106-room hotel also has been busy with visitors affiliated with baseball camp activities.
Staff will put up decorations for Induction Weekend later this week, Hite said.
"We get into it," she said.