COOPERSTOWN _ A nearly 70-year tradition will come to an end in June with the final Baseball Hall of Fame Game.
National Baseball Hall of Fame President Dale Petroskey announced Tuesday that this year's game, featuring the Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres on Monday, June 16, at Cooperstown's historic Doubleday Field, will be the last. The first game was played in 1940.
"We're grateful to Major League Baseball for making an annual Hall of Fame Game possible for so many years, but we also understand their enormous scheduling challenge today, which makes continuing this exhibition game impossible," Petroskey said in a media release.
The impact of the decision on the local economy will depend on how successful several impacted groups are in finding a substitute for the event.
Hall of Fame Chairwoman Jane Forbes Clark said, "We will continue to be creative and innovative in looking for ways to host wonderful baseball events in the absence of the game."
Cooperstown Mayor Carol Waller said the village received about $30,000 from ticket sales for the Hall of Fame Game. Officials are talking with representatives from the Baseball Hall of Fame about pursuing other events to fill the field during that week, she said.
These could include hosting a Little League championship or an international game, Waller said.
An event such as those would soften the impact of the lost funding, Waller said, that is used for sprucing up the field and security for the Hall of Fame induction.
"If we can get creative, we can get that back," she said.
Hall of Fame vice president of communications and education Jeff Idelson said, "We'll look at every possible alternative" in bringing back an event to Doubleday Field for the weekend in 2009.
The stadium seats 9,571.
"It's sad," Waller said about the end of the tradition.
But by working with the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, she said, she was hopeful the parade for the event "will celebrate what we had for (nearly) 70 years."
Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Bullis said that while the announcement was "disappointing," finding a replacement "will give us a chance to look at a new and different way to celebrate the game of baseball in Cooperstown."
Cooperstown High School students could lose an average of $9,000 to $11,000 earned by running the concession stands at the game, said school Superintendent Mary Jo McPhail.
The money has been used to offset the cost of the senior trip and prom.
"Fortunately, we have time to plan" on how to offset the loss, she said.
Local business owners on Tuesday expressed disappointment with the decision.
"I think it's very selfish on the part of Major League Baseball," said Jeff Foster, owner of Legends Are Forever, a baseball souvenir and memorabilia store on Main Street.
"I think the players don't want to be bothered," he said.
The game doesn't mean as much for business when it falls in June, he said, because people are already here from the baseball camps.
But it is the second-biggest weekend for business during the season, with the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony being the busiest.
"It's one of our busiest weekends," said Scott Goble, a clerk at Seventh Inning Stretch, a nearby shop selling similar items.
"If you could find another way to bring people to town that would help," he said, "but I don't know if anything could match it."
The business the weekend brought depended on several factors, store manager Barry Renert said, but "it's a very big deal."
"It will put a big damper on the weekend," said Sal Grigoli, an owner of Sal's Pizzeria and Restaurant in Cooperstown, adding the game has gained in importance since the game was split from Induction Weekend in 2003.
He said he welcomed any effort to lessen the impact.
His brother John Grigoli, also an owner, said the business could lose hundreds of dollars because of the decision.
"It's been coming for quite a long time," said Al O'Brien, owner of Cooperstown Motel.
The game has not been as important for business since it was separated from Induction Weekend, he said.
Petroskey said he was ``delighted to have the Cubs and Padres in Cooperstown for Father's Day Weekend.''
The 2 p.m. game will be a rematch of the 1984 NL Championship Series.
Pre-game festivities start at noon with the Hall of Fame Game Day Parade on Main Street; the Home Run Derby will be at 1 p.m. at Doubleday Field.
Ticket prices are $12.50 for first- and third-base seats and $11 for outfield seats. Tickets will be available for purchase in two ways for the final Hall of Fame Game: in person during a one-day sale March 8 or for members by phone beginning March 8.
Tickets will not be available for purchase online this year, officials said, because of the commemorative nature of the event.