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Cooperstown Preparing For President's Arrival


The Village of Cooperstown and National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum are preparing for the arrival of President Barack Obama tomorrow. The president is scheduled to speak about the tourism economy, just before the start of Memorial Day Weekend.

Jeff Katz, mayor of Cooperstown, says the village is eagerly awaiting the arrival of President Barack Obama on Thursday.

“It’s very exciting. All the residents, all the businesses I’ve spoke to are pinching themselves asking if it’s really true,” said Katz.

The trip marks the first time a sitting president has visited Cooperstown since Martin Van Buren, the eighth president, visited in 1839.

The 44th president will promote tourism at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum,  now celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Katz said Cooperstown’s other museums and attractions are preparing and showing new exhibits and activities.

“Some of our other tourist venues like the Fenimore Art Museum, the Farmers’ Museum, the Glimmerglass Opera all have lots of exciting programs and events so if the president is going to talk about tourism, it should be Cooperstown, and we’re happy to have him here,” said Katz.

Jeff Idelson, president of the Hall of Fame, said the museum and surrounding businesses have been busy preparing for the nation’s highest-profile White Sox fan.

“The Village of Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame have spent the last 96 hours getting ready for the president’s visit – a very historic visit in that it’s a first, but the museum is looking beautiful, the village is looking welcoming, and the residents are excited about his arrival.”

Idelson said the visit not only draws attention to museum, but to the entire Central New York region as a destination for tourism.

“With the president using the baseball Hall of Fame as a backdrop for a speech on tourism, it’s a chance for the rest of the nation to be reminded of this region of Central New York,” said Idelson.

With the visit scheduled just before Memorial Day weekend, Idelson said excitement over the Hall of Fame’s 75thanniversary  has already been bringing tourists to town. The Hall of Fame Classic game is scheduled for this weekend. Throughout the year, in addition to its birthday celebration, the Hall of Fame will feature what Idelson calls “the biggest-living induction class since Richard Nixon was in office,” the opening of a new Babe Ruth gallery, and an end-of-summer concert featuring the Boston Pops and Paul Simon.

Mayor Katz said he hasn’t learned of any particular road closures or restricted access due to the president’s arrival, but said “it’s not business as usual when a president comes to visit.”

This is the third time President Obama is speaking in New York this month. A week ago he addressed infrastructure under the shadow of the New New York Bridge, the span being built to replace the Tappan Zee, and also spoke at the dedication of the September 11th Memorial Museum in Manhattan.

On May 28th, President Obama is scheduled to speak at the commencement at West Point.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.