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November 16, 2009

My Turn: Being a local fan is hard in times like these

This week's "My turn" column is by Joseph C. Stillman, an Oneonta-based producer and director and founder of La Paloma Films. He is also a local sports and arts fan.

I have to be honest, I've never been much of a baseball fan. For me, the game was always too slow. But what do I know? I like soccer and I play golf.

This summer, when I attended an Oneonta Tigers game with my friend Ben, it occurred to me that being a local fan in Oneonta was something more than just watching a sporting event. It was an experience, a responsibility even.

Damaschke Field is a great place to be on a summer evening. The new owners were doing a great job of promoting the game and making it a wonderful experience for all who attended. Their staff couldn't be friendlier or more accommodating. But where were all the other local fans?

Did the attendance drop because the cost to get in was raised? Do people expect to go to every game for free without regard for a fair admission price to make it financially viable for the team?

The five games I attended were hardly capacity crowds. I had a sinking feeling at the last game that unless things changed next year, we may not have a team to watch the following season.

When I was at the induction ceremony at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in August, I had that same gut instinct, and look what's happened since? Where were all the local supporters in our community? It was a wonderful ceremony that should have had a better turnout.

Last month, I went to several very creative events at the Foothills Performing Arts Center that were sparsely attended, as well. These were quality programs that didn't cost much to see. Where was everyone? Their events were well promoted and were great entertainment. Why the no-shows?

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