Cooperstown ready for presidential visit

By Matt Porter

May 19, 2014 Updated May 20, 2014 at 8:11 AM EDT

Cooperstown, NY (WBNG Binghamton) For 75 years, baseball has been a lifeline for Cooperstown.

The small upstate village attracts more than 300,000 visitors each year from all over the United States and the world including Orioles die-hard Robin Forster who found charm on Main Street traveling from Maryland.

"You know, it's nice, it's really nice, small streets, shops," Forster said.

A charm the Baseball Hall of Fame hopes the nation will see when President Barack Obama visits Thursday.

"It's a monumental moment for Cooperstown and this region," said Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson, "To have a sitting president, the first one ever, visiting the Hall of Fame."

Idelson said the hall of fame serves as an anchor for the dozens of businesses built around it, but it's also part of a set of historic and natural landmarks bringing tourists to the Empire State.

"To impress upon him just how important tourism is to this region, how much of an economic driver it is for the state of New York, and how many wonderful attractions are besides the hall of fame that make central New York a wonderful place to visit," Idelson said.

When President Obama visits Cooperstown, he'll just be one of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to the hall of fame each year.

Local business owners hope the V.I.P. visit will help revitalize the new season.

Richard Busse, owner of a souvenir shop and restaurant in Cooperstown, said the steroid era has drained some of the enthusiasm for the baseball hall of fame.

"I just think the overall energy and enthusiasm here the last five, six, seven years because of the steroid era has definitely hurt business here in Cooperstown," Busse said.

Rick Turner, owner of the Seventh Inning Stretch gift shop, said In a town where tourism is king, 15 minutes in the national spotlight is a home run any day.

"I think it's always good when the President helps promote local tourism or local small communities," Turner said. "It helps out tremendously."

The president's visit will close the hall of fame on Thursday for the entire day.

The hall will reopen Friday for its normal business hours beginning at 9 a.m.

Details of the exact schedule for the president's visit have not been released.

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