Heitz suggested that if the village wants to offer discounts for tournaments, then they should only do so if they get multi-year contracts from the operators.
“If you are going to offer a discount, then the village has to get something back,” he said. “I think what the village should get back is some certainty.”
Dean, who is the chairman of the committee, said he called the special meeting after one tournament operator wrote a letter to the editor, published in the Sept. 12 edition of the Cooperstown Crier, that criticized the fees as too high. After doing some research, he said he also saw more disparaging remarks about the price of the field rentals on the Internet. Currently weekend tournament games are $550 and single games are $500. Midweek and post-Labor Day games are $400.
“The important thing to say is we are listening,” he said. “If we took action, we would take the fees down. We are not talking about raising them. We are aware that we have to deal with a new economic reality.”
“People say negative things about Cooperstown, and that is not helpful,” he continued. “We have to do damage control. We have to get our message out. They’re getting their message out.”
Jeff Idelson, who is also president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, said that he didn’t think the village should take action based on Internet criticism.
“We all take hits on the Internet all the time,” he said. “We don’t like it. We’ve all got feelings. But I don’t think you take action based on feelings.”
Idelson said he wanted to see empirical data on who comes to play at the field, how long and where they stay, and how much money they spend while in Cooperstown. The committee members agreed to recommend that Idelson be allowed to help set up a system for gathering that information next year.
In the meantime, Dean said he wanted to be proactive about promoting field rentals. He assured the members that their concerns about marketing are being addressed.
“I want you to know that the mayor is on top of this,” he said. “He has applied for grants, a CFA (New York state Consolidate Funding Application) grant for marketing Doubleday Field.”