Cooperstown All-Star Village: A Cautionary Tale

15 Jul

Miss me?

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.

CASV

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:

CASV.Bunks

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.

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37 Responses to “Cooperstown All-Star Village: A Cautionary Tale”

  1. Oh no! July 16, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    So sad that this was your experience of Oneonta, and unfortunately probably many people’s who are visiting for the baseball camps. They have a bad reputation and are run by rude people not reflective of the area’s charm. What a disgrace! I hope you did, though, get to check out some of the more positive aspects of our little area.

    • SOLEfortheSoul July 16, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

      I absolutely adored the area and you cannot beat how scenic those mountains are. Most if not all of the parents I spoke with felt the same way. Today I posted about a little deli in town called The Yellow Deli, very charming and delicious! 🙂 Thanks for the comment and for reading.

      • Carrie Smith December 21, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

        Thank you a local

      • SOLEfortheSoul December 29, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

        I couldn’t agree more, I would absolutely LOVE to go back to the area to enjoy some of the local charm and the views.

  2. Grateful reader November 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Thank you for your honest feedback on your experience. Our son’s team is hoping to play at Dreams Park, but many of the parents seem ready to settle on All-star Village. I am reluctant because I worry about a “second-rate” experience. These trips are so expensive and require so much time and effort that I want to be sure we are getting our money’s worth. I am glad I came across your blog and plan to share it with our team. I hope this will give us some insight into what’s to come.

    • SOLEfortheSoul November 26, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      Thanks for commenting! Let me know how Dreams is, if you guys go with it! If had some people ask me questions about that one. 🙂

  3. Allison Haley May 5, 2014 at 10:58 am #

    Hello!! I appreciate all the info about All-Star Village — my son is playing there in June. I’m hoping for a better experience… we are not staying on the grounds, which sounds like we made a good decision. I noticed you had some photos of the fields, I was wondering what shooting was like at the games? I can’t find much info on what the seating is like at the fields. Thanks!!

    • SOLEfortheSoul May 5, 2014 at 11:01 am #

      Allison, I hope it’s better for you too! The seating is brutal, there are metal bleaches at every field but NO SHADE. Like at all! The first day we made a trip into town and grabbed tarps and bungees to make our own portable awnings. It helped with some rain and the sun. Best investment I’ve ever made! I would’ve had 3rd degree sunburn if we hadn’t!

  4. JIM July 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    Things must have changed since we were there two years ago. My sons team played there in late June of 2012, and had a great time. While the bunk house did take on odor of it’s own, it was more of a cleanliness issue of the stinky boys and their cleats.

    It is a camp, not a hotel, so there is not going to be housekeeping coming around to clean up the bunkhouse. It is up to the coaches who knew what they were getting into, to have the team keep the living quarters clean. The toilets did get backed up occasionally, but were fixed in a timely manner.

    We did eat at the restaurant one evening and the food was fine. Nothing outstanding, but fine.

    I suggest anybody going to All Star Village do some homework online and see what the place is like. We knew before we went that there were metal bleachers and no shelter, but that’s what we deal with at EVERY GAME that our boys play.We simply brought bleacher seats to the games which I prefer, because they’re small, easily portable, and quick to break down in case of a storm. Nobody provides shade. Do you expect shade if you go to an MLB ballpark? Why would you here?

    We had no experience of Marty sending for a ringer. He seemed maybe a little odd, but not rude by ay means.

    My son says that the bathrooms are similar to a restroom/shower house at a campground, which is totally what I expected since this is, Again, a camp.

    I’m sorry you had a bad experience at All Star Village, I hope anyone else going there has a better experience.

    • SOLEfortheSoul July 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

      Honestly Jim, I do too. I would like to think that a park can’t sustain itself with such extreme, ongoing sewage issues like we experienced; I assume that those problems have been resolved. I’m sure our experience isn’t necessarily the norm for everyone who visited, but I left with such a horrible experience I felt like I needed to share it with other families. Thanks for your positive comment, though – everyone’s experience is different and I’m glad that your son had a great time! 🙂

    • JBS August 14, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

      But, have you ever paid $1400 per person to stay in a campground? !!?!!!

      Melissa’s description sounds like boy scout camp (except with a rude, unhelpful staff) – but I paid $280 for a week of boy scout camp a few years ago and it was just as it was advertised. And – I got no reports of floating sewage!?!

      The word “camp” is only mentioned once on the entire ASV website. The bunkhouse webpage makes no mention of shared bathrooms, and, in fact, states “on-site accommodations that feature all the amenities you would expect from a resort” I’m pretty sure that degree of false advertising would be considered criminal. It also claims to offer “fine dining.” I’d be laughing my ass off at the ridiculousness of those claims in contrast to Melissa’s review…..except..

      We’re leaving for ASV in the morning. Ugh. Wish I’d read this months ago. I feel a little nauseous now. So glad we’re staying in a nearby cabin. I’m already sad for my baseball-playing son.

      It sounds to me as if you are speaking from a biased perspective.

      I’ve also heard the flown-in ringer story, BTW – all the way down here in DC/NoVA! I’d chalk it up to urban legend, but it was supposedly a direct source.

      What the hell have we got ourselves into??!!!!

      • SOLEfortheSoul August 14, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

        Haha hopefully the sewage issues have been resolved and you have a good week! Leave another comment and let me know how it went, it’s always good to have up to date reviews. We went with the Dreams camp this year instead of ASV!

      • JBS August 14, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

        Melissa, when was your original post written? I just read a Yelp review that indicated the bunkhouses were new for 2014? A glimmer of hope! I sure hope so. Although the review also expressed frustration with the way rainouts were handled – “made it impossible to enjoy any downtime because the entire schedule was redone several times.” Praying for clear skies. If I find that things have improved significantly, I will be sure to report!

      • SOLEfortheSoul August 14, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

        It’s Michelle actually! I wasn’t sure if you thought I was Melissa or were talking about a friend of yours haha 🙂 We went last summer, so 2013.

      • JBS August 15, 2014 at 1:13 am #

        Oh my word!! I CAN read! I read one thing and my brain just wanted to type another…. SO sorry.

      • SOLEfortheSoul August 15, 2014 at 8:58 am #

        No worries! Nice to meet you!! 🙂

      • GingerSnap October 9, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

        Hi JBS,

        How did ASV turn out for you?

        My son’s team is looking at going for next year and this thread is worrisome.

    • Carrie Smith December 21, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

      YES IT IS A CAMP!!!!

  5. Melissa July 25, 2014 at 11:15 pm #

    It was very interesting to read your blog, as a local I always feel bad for unsuspecting tourists who get lured into the “Cooperstown” experience. Not a single baseball camp is located in Cooperstown by the way, the town refuses it. It is so expensive and not much else to do unless you really know your way around. I hope your trip didn’t ruin your idea of central NY!

    • SOLEfortheSoul July 25, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

      Melissa, thanks for the comment. I absolutely fell in love with those mountains. Oneota is so quaint and artsy, so much fun to explore!

  6. elmer gomez August 22, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    I am interested in the baseball. My son plays for a national travel team that competes in USA Baseball National Team Championships (Jr. Olympics) and Perfect Game World Wood Bat Assoc. Tournaments from Georgia to Florida and we live in California. These programs are heavily scouted by college and mlb scouts. My question is around the baseball side of things: what is the competition like and is it scouted heavily?

    As a parent and a Varsity baseball coach, I care more about my son being positioned to play college ball and hopefully earn a scholarship. Aside from the amenities, how was the baseball? Do scouts attend? Etc..

    I heard you say the head guy flew in a Ringer from Cali to try and win. Thats the norm for us in USA Baseball and Perfect Game events. It is very much a college development program/atmosphere and people are there for exposure in baseball and to compete at the highest levels, vacation is secondary. ..

    • SOLEfortheSoul August 22, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

      Great question! You can tell I’m not the sports fan in my house, eh?! 🙂 There WERE scouts both at Cooperstown and at Dreams parks. At Dreams this year, we were approached to attend for a special training camp with all expenses paid. Unfortunately, we had to decline due to scheduling conflicts, but both camps certainly gave the kids some great exposure and networking.

      • elmer gomez August 22, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

        Cool thanks for the quick reply!

    • Reality check please August 27, 2015 at 10:53 am #

      This is 12 yr old baseball right?
      I do not know a scout that is looking at 12 year old players.

  7. Ken Babcock December 29, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. We took our team to Cooperstown All-Star Village in 2012 and are sending a team from our association again this summer. And we would highly recommend CASV to any team looking for an experience of a lifetime. That’s what our trip was. Amazing. It was everything as advertised. The boys and parents still talk about the great experience and fun they had. Every 12 year old ball player should get a chance to go to Cooperstown All-Star Village. ps. the food was awesome and the staff were great. And it was also super organized. Would highly recommend this week long tourney experience!!!

    Ken Babcock
    President
    Baseball Oshawa

    • SOLEfortheSoul December 29, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

      I’m happy to hear that your experience was different than ours! Thanks for the additional feedback 🙂

  8. Disappointed Mom March 18, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    I booked to stay on site at ASV a while back. We are going there this summer. Others in our group are staying elsewhere, so we decided to cancel our reservation and go with them. ASV says they will not refund one penny of the $1000+ deposit I paid (which was only half of what they were charging for the week). I cancelled with 90+ days notice. I am beyond disappointed already with the place and we haven’t even stepped foot in New York!

  9. Arbella parrot December 29, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

    Hello
    My son will be playing at all star village this summer. We were told not to stay there but now I’m hearing the hotels in the town aren’t that nice and it may make more sense to rent a house on the lake in Cooperstown even though it is a long drive. Any thoughts?

    • SOLEfortheSoul April 20, 2016 at 10:51 pm #

      Yes, the players have shelter but bring a tarp or tent for any spectators. It’s brutal!

  10. Arbella parrot April 18, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

    Hello
    Is there any dugout shade for the players??? Thank you

  11. Elizabeth June 19, 2016 at 10:12 pm #

    Hello All ….it is June 2016, NOTHING HAS IMPROVED. This place is awful. I mean absolutely awful. My son is here for 12U week long camp, my other two children are staying with my at the All Star Village “resort”. This is no resort. when we checked in, the first room they gave us was so dirty, the shower stall was full of mildew and there were spiders crawling out of the bed sheets.

  12. Elizabeth June 19, 2016 at 10:42 pm #

    Please do not waste your money! This place is awful. The rooms are the dirtiest rooms I have ever stayed in, and I’m 44 yrs old and have traveled extensively worldwide. I can only imagine what this has been like for my son who is forced to stay in the barracks. The food is so gross, undercooked, that I do worry about our health. The conditions are awful in the fields as well. The super high fencing blocks any breeze, and literally makes you feel like you are roasting in an oven. Of course, there is no water to be found for anyone. Our experience was so bad that I will keep writing bad reviews until some listens and shuts this place down.

    • Arbella July 1, 2016 at 8:57 pm #

      Elizabeth is your son having a good experience at least? I hope so as we are coming in a month,staying elsewhere but he will be staying in the “dorms”. Also any idea how the boys manage their belongings and keeping them safe (thinking iPhones etc). Thank you

      • Jill Cresci August 1, 2016 at 7:47 am #

        We have had experience at both Cooperstown baseball tournaments. Our son’s 12U team went to All Star Village this year (July 2-8, 2016) and two years ago when he was 10, he was on a 12U team that went to Dreams Park.

        Both parks have pluses and minuses.

        As for the safety of their belongings in the dorm, there are no locks. We instructed our son to keep his iPhone in his baseball bag when he was playing and in his pocket when he was out of the dorm for free time. We figured if he had it on his person, it couldn’t get stolen. As for their baseball equipment, Dreams Park has a big, locked bin on the outside of each bunkhouse for the team to lock up their baseball equipment in. All Star Village does not have a place to store equipment, so the boys left it in their dorm, where it was at risk of someone stealing it when they weren’t in the dorm. Thankfully, nothing was stolen.

        Dreams Park has no accommodations for parents, so you are forced to stay off property. You pretty much leave your kid there after each game unless you choose to sign him out and have him come with you. Our hotel was a half hour drive away from Dreams Park, and there was very little cell phone reception outside of Cooperstown proper or Dreams Park. So if something were to happen to him at the park, it was hard to get in touch with us. Also, the families were scattered all over the area, and we didn’t often hang out together due to the distance. Therefore, this year at All Star Village, we chose to pay a little bit more money to stay on the premises. The room was horrible; it smelled like cigarettes even though it was a non smoking room, and the bathrooms were crusty/dirty looking. There is no maid service, so after paying $1900 for the room, I had to make the beds each day. You’re paying for the convenience of staying near the boys. That’s it. The room did come in handy as a landing area for those families who stayed off of the property and didn’t feel like driving back to their hotels during the day. Everyone hung out by the pool during down time and used our room to change. The pool, BTW, is a bit dirty looking too. However, overall, we had a better experience at All Star Village because of the convenience of staying on the property. There was definitely more bonding time with the other families because we had a place to hang out together. In addition, Dreams Park has no family restaurant or bar to hang out in, so all of the parents scattered after games–whereas All Star Village has a bar and restaurant (average pub food at best) on the premises, so it gave the families somewhere to hang out together. Two nights in a row we all hung out at the restaurant on top of the hill by the fire pits that over looks the fields. We enjoyed ourselves.

        Dreams Park’s entire tournament is more organized and run better. The opening ceremonies included guys parachuting into the main stadium, and the skills derby was organized. The opening ceremonies and skills derby at All Star Village were organized chaos. No one really knew what they were doing. The turn two competition had kids warming up all over the field with balls being thrown all over the place, while fans were sitting on the ground around the field. We saw a few people get plunked with overthrown balls. That turned us off. Dreams Park was quick to throw out coaches who were a-holes, while All Star Village seemed to overlook unsportsmanlike conduct. Pin trading is a big deal at Dreams Park and was not that big of a deal at All Star Village. If you have a choice of the number of pins to order, get a lot for Dreams Park and get the smallest package available for All Star Village. My younger daughter loved the pin trading at Dreams Park but did not find many kids to trade with at All Star Village. She did her most trading at CASV with the waitresses.

        The public bathrooms at Dreams Park were very clean, while they were filthy at CASV. The grounds at Dreams Park were cleaner and more pristine, while they weren’t as nice at All Star Village.

        There were 104 teams the week we went to Dreams Park, and there were 46 teams the week we went to All Star Village.

        Overall, we had a better time at All Star Village because of being able to stay on the premises and hang out with the families in the restaurant. Dreams Park doesn’t encourage you to walk on their grass or play on the grass. At All Star Village, we hung out with all of the families on two different nights in the pavilion area where the barbecue is. We brought a radio, moved tables from the tent onto the grass, brought coolers with adult and child friendly beverages and let the kids run all over the lawn and play while the adults partied. It was a better experience, however, Dreams Park wins for organization and cleanliness.

        Just my two cents having experienced both parks with our son.

        If you want to see how the playing field look, you can check out this highlight video of our team from the week: https://youtu.be/vYkuAXnm0bk

      • Wayne September 7, 2016 at 4:58 am #

        @Jill Cresci – thanks for posting the link to the video at youtube. It appears that All-Star village has covered the bleachers. Did I see that correctly? Did it help your experience vs. that of what Michelle experienced as far as the sun beating down on you? Or am I not seeing it correctly? Michelle if you watch that video can you tell us if they have changed it from when you were there? Thanks in advance.

    • Lance August 10, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

      CASV is a rip off, they charge a arm and a leg. Then they steal your Security Deposit. They said behind (BEHIND) one of the bunk beds there was a small (quarter size) ding in the wall it would have taken 5 minutes to fix. It could have been there before we even got there since we never pulled the beds out and inspected those walls on our arrival.

      I wonder how many teams actually get there $500.00 back. Pretty shifty we paid over $15,000.00 to go there and they still felt compelled to steal our deposit also.

      When my older boy played at Dreams park we didn’t have this problem.

  13. Wayne September 7, 2016 at 4:50 am #

    Thank you so much for the original post Michelle. And for everybody who commented. We might be going to the Dreams Park during the spring of 2017 so am doing a bit of study and comparing the two venues. And this discussion has been very helpful. Thanks!

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