CORTLAND, NY – Local leaders, citizens, and small business owners are lining up behind the Cortland Regional Sports Council and other area business groups in their support for the ongoing development of the Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex in the town of Cortlandville.
The town’s work to build the site as a sports tourism destination and community park has had early success and plans are in place for still more growth, but several candidates for town office this November are questioning the process.
“The truth is that the town has done an incredible job of turning vision to reality in building the complex and using it to help drive the local economy,” said Sports Council Executive Director Machell Phelps. “And they’re doing it in a way that will have little to no impact on the taxpayers.”
Support for the park, as well as the town’s contract with a national organization to continue bringing more tournament events to it, is coming in from all corners.
“We look forward to the continued growth of Gutchess Park,” said Kelly Foster, president of the Cortland Area Innkeepers Association. “With the plans to expand, we can only continue to see improved economic conditions in the area and feel strongly that all parties involved will benefit.”
Meghan Lawton, executive director of the Cortland County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, agreed. “We wholeheartedly support the agreement between the Town of Cortlandville and the prep-baseball organization PBR,” she said. “Sports travel is big business. It is economic development. Continued support and growth of the Gutchess Park Complex is not only good for Cortlandville – it is good for all of Cortland County.”
Cortland Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Bob Haight said he has seen tremendous impact from the two fields that have been built and looks forward to the construction of two more under the PBR contract. “The athletes and families are exactly the type of visitors we want in Central New York,” he said. “They are respectful, conduct themselves in an exemplary fashion, and have disposable income to spend while here.”
New York State Sen. Peter Oberacker lauded the park’s current and projected economic impact, as well. “New opportunities for economic development, job growth, and recreation are on the horizon,” he said.
Robbie Petrella, owner of Brix restaurant in Cortland, was one of many small business owners noting the positive impact of the PBR tournaments this summer. He was joined in that assessment by a number of other businesses and local leaders contacted (see the attached for their thoughts).
“This field is a gift and an opportunity to put Cortland County on the map. There are some nice complexes out there but there is not a single one that comes close to this one. Not only do I recommend it, I have other coaches reaching out to see if they can come down to play us.”
Robert Nasiatka, Varsity Baseball Coach Homer Central Schools
“Prior to having the GLSC& TP available to our clubs, our baseball and softball teams struggled to find suitable fields to play on, especially during the shoulder seasons of fall and spring.”
Matthew Nuesell, Assistant Director for Intermural Sports and Sport Clubs, SUNY Cortland
“PBRT is a blessing. During the past 8 months our restaurants have had significant walk-in traffic and for the first time in several years hotels were full every weekend that PBRT hosted a tournament this past summer.”
Tammy Timmerman, President of the Cortland County Tavern and Restaurant Association.
“The best thing about Gutchess is the overall atmosphere and cleanliness of the park. Other teams always mention how amazing this facility is.”
Joseph Carroll, SUNY Cortland Club Baseball President
“I would like the community to know what a jewel of a facility they have in the GLSC&TP. People from all over the Northeast are using the facility and finding out about the Cortland area, bringing a great deal of money into the community. I believe the Town of Cortlandville made a sound investment in the GLSC&TP for the future of our community with Sports tourism.”
John Tobin, Retired Cortland High School Baseball Coach
“The GLSC&TP is a facility that I rarely see NOT IN USE. Our area Little League all-star team has used the fields for tryouts, practices and games. When not in use by our local community members, members of other communities get to experience our community. There have been countless times I have met families from out of town while downtown or at local restaurants.This puts a smile on my face that this facility has drawn players and families from all over the place.”
Jeremy Milligan, Little League Coach
“The baseball tournaments…have had a massive impact on our business. This is our 11th year in downtown Cortland and it is by far our most successful summer to date.”
Robbie Petrella, Brix
“It cannot be disputed that sports tourism is real and that it can have an important impact on a local economy.
Garry VanGorder, executive director, Cortland County Business Development Corp.
Paid for by the Cortland Regional Sports Council