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June 13, 2013

Dreams Park, then and now, required a work ethic

Campers coming to the Cooperstown Dreams Park each year not only come to play on fields near a historic setting, they come here to apply and improve upon their baseball skills and work ethic. Long before the Dreams Park came to be, those fields held another function that required a good work ethic, farming.

In mid-July of 1995, The Cooperstown Crier reported, “Budding baseball stars from throughout the United States may soon be flocking to Cooperstown during the summer. At least that is the hope of the developers of a major new baseball camp planned for the town of Hartwick.”

Louis Presutti, Jr. of North Carolina and his son, Louis III, of Rochester presented their plans to the Hartwick Planning Board that month. The park, with a proposed construction budget of nearly $2 million, was planned on a 110-acre lot along the east side of state Route 28. The camp was to be built in phases over the next several years.

Cooperstown Dreams Park opened in late July 1996 with six fields and a small village of bunkhouses, with a short season that brought in about 300 weekly campers. The name came from a dream of Louis Presutti, Sr., who used to bring his family to Cooperstown on vacations, which always included fishing and a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The opening of this camp by Louis Presutti, Jr. made a dream come true for his late father.

The Dreams Park now has 22 baseball fields and attracts 1,500 young baseball players every week for 13 weeks. In recent years, according to figures from The Otsego County Chamber, when adding the players’ families, it amounts to about 60,000 people per year for the region’s hotels, restaurants and local attractions. The camp generates about $26.5 million into the local economy and employs several hundred part-time workers.

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