December 5, 2021

Pandemic cost $1.6M in sports spending

Expected revenue from Cortlandville’s Gutchess complex took hit due to virus

Photo provided by Ben Albright

The turf at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex in Cortlandville is home to Cortland High baseball.

The coronavirus pandemic has cost the greater Cortland area nearly two-thirds of the revenue it could otherwise have expected in 2020 from the Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex in Cortlandville.

After a year in which many of its events were canceled, organizers for Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex are looking to recoup financial losses in 2021.

Cortland Youth Bureau Director John McNerney and Cortland Regional Sports Council Executive Director Machell Phelps told the Cortlandville Town Board the total economic impact — derived from a state formula that represents the average amount spent by a traveler in upstate New York, both with and without an overnight stay at a hotel — was $866,610, Phelps said Monday.

In comparison, a normal year is predicted to have between $2.5 million and $2.8 million, she said. The amount does not take into account sales tax derived from spending.

Before the pandemic, the amount for 2021 was expected to be more than $3 million.

The more than $800,000 was almost entirely through baseball programs.

“I’m thankful we had that,” Phelps said.

Athletic events were canceled at the complex from March to May because of state COVID-19 restrictions, McNerney said. This included the entire Cortland Crush season along with Homer and Cortland High School baseball games, which are sometimes played at the complex.

Still, McNerney was happy that Prep Baseball Report showcase events, Little League games and some youth camps were allowed to happen.

“I thought it was very positive being able to pull off events once we were able to do it,” he said.

For 2021, the complex has 63 events scheduled so far, McNerney said.

Questions remain on whether high schools such as Cortland, Homer and Dryden will be able to use the field because the state has yet to rule on spring sports, including baseball and softball.

Phelps said she hopes events can return this year. “The whole reason we exist is to bring people into the community,” she said, staying at nearby hotels and going to restaurants and other attractions.

That, though, remains to be determined.

“So much of what we’re going to be able to do is determined by the state and local health departments,” Phelps said.