I’ve been out and about in the world! Well, the Catskills.
If you’ve been stalking me on Twitter, which I recommend doing because I have the most amazing things to say (@MichelleSFTS), you know that I was out of town last week. We ventured to Oneonta/Cooperstown, NY for a little league tournament. It was not quite relaxing, but not quite stressful either. It was the ideal mix of feeling like we were away for some R&R and anxiety attacks from sports-fueled tension.
We left for what I thought was Cooperstown, NY in the early afternoon on July 5th. It was a scenic, but long (close to 7.5 hour) drive through central PA and up into NY state. We arrived in Oneonta, about an hour away from Cooperstown proper, early enough to settle in and explore the rental house we were staying in for the week. Talk about scenic. The town is nestled among the Catskills, where you can see vast forests off into the horizon speckled with little farms.
On Saturday, brother CJ had to check-in with the rest of his team at Cooperstown All-Star Village, a prestigious and expensive baseball resort where he would spend the week playing in a tournament against nationally ranked little league teams.
We spent a lot of time on these 8 fields (there are 2 hidden fields in the back right corner) – and I have a lot of feedback for anyone reading this as a potential visitor to the resort. Most of it isn’t good.
As a player, CJ’s team (along with many, many others) stayed in these barracks:
The boys played from Sunday-Monday to determine how they would be seeded for the actual All-Star tournament, which lasted from Tuesday to Thursday. We played well off and on, but were knocked out in the second round of the final tournament.
I just want to share some honest thoughts on Cooperstown All-Star Village…
1. It is waaaaaay over-priced. One of the other families rented a room on the grounds and was very disappointed. She spent twice as much money as families staying a hotel off-site, but had smaller amenities and a poorly kept room.
2. The coaches stayed with the players in the bunks and were privy to somepretty intense conditions. I’m not sure how the sanitation department hasn’t come in and shut this place down or at least fined them. The boys all shared toilets/showers in a big building. By the first day, the toilets had backed up and feces was floating around in the showers with the boys. No one ever came to clean it up (or the bunks for that matter) and the coaches had to band together to scavenge for cleaning supplies and do it themselves.
3. Near the restaurant, there is an outdoor bathroom near a ledge that overlooks 3 of the fields. As we sat in this section through much of our trip (aka the over-priced and poorly stocked bar), we noticed that by the first day this bathroom was also completely immersed in raw sewage. Instead of blocking it off or calling in someone to fix it, the bathroom sat like that all week (in 80-90 degree heat, mind you) with the door propped open. It was absolutely disgusting. The boys at the dugouts were provided with water fountains where BROWNISH ORANGE water came out of. Are you friggin’ kidding me? Our team’s parents took pictures, I’m not making this stuff up.
4. The food was not good at either the restaurant on site or where the kids ate. Frankly, I was more than a little concerned about the fact that the AC was out in the restaurant and cooked food was sitting around in banquet trays in the hot heat. It was wayyyyyyy overpriced. Think $9 for about 15 nacho chips and shredded pork on top. No cheese. No veggies. No sour cream. I was not happy.
5. For the hefty price tag, you would think that families and spectators would be provided even a small portion of shade to watch the games. Each field had high fencing so that you couldn’t really watch from outside the small set of bleachers located INSIDE the fence. There was absolutely no shelter on those bleachers. The first day we went ran to the hardware store to buy tarps and bungees because we didn’t pack umbrellas for the trip. It was horrible.
6. The resort is marketed as a family-friendly facility, and yet there wasn’t one single thing for the younger kids to play on. Not a playground. Not a jungle gym. Nothing. By the end of the week, I can’t even imagine how bored younger sibs were from watching endless games with such short attention spans. As far as the boys go, if it started to sprinkle, the lifeguard on duty was dismissed immediately. The boys only got pool time one day during the week we stayed there, despite there only being rain 2 days.
7. We learned that the owner of the park, Marty, has earned himself quite a notorious reputation. Aside from being drunkenly rude to one of team parents, we heard stories from everyone we spoke with. For example, we heard from an employee that his hand-picked team was losing to a really great team from out of state, who had dominated throughout their entire stay at the resort. Marty, determined not to lose, flew a top notch player in from California to beat the competition. Not the epitome of good sportsmanship. I can’t say that the stories are 100% true because obviously I’m hearing them second hand, but I know how we were treated and I know how the facility was kept. That’s enough for me.
These are not just angry rantings of a disgruntled guest. I started a list in my head mid-week of things that were bothering me about the place. I hoped that things would improve, but they didn’t. Then, I sat on things for a few days (we returned Friday) to make sure that I wasn’t overreacting. I spoke with team members’ parents who were equally disgusted and upset about the resort. I felt obligated to send this out into the universe with the hopes that someone looking for reviews of the facility heeds my warnings.
The only truly positive thing about the resort was watching the boys play and the time we spent away from the resort. To be honest, most of the things I listed above didn’t affect the kids. They were too busy being pre-teen boys and experiencing “camp” and playing on amazingly kept baseball fields that are the closest thing to major league quality as little league can get. I’m thankful for that.
That having been said, I urge parents to be weary about wasting their money on the camp. I urge families who have stayed to write reviews online so that perhaps the owner will be forced to fix what’s very, very wrong. And mostly, I urge someone to call the DPH and report his ass. Oh, that’s right…I all ready did that. For the first time in my life, I felt so disgusted by an establishment and the unsanitary conditions provided for children to live and play in – I reported them to the Department of Public Health.
Be weary of the place, folks. That’s all I can say.