JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A baseball field in New York is requiring that everyone 12 years and older must be vaccinated for the coronavirus before participating in an upcoming tournament.
According to a press release sent by Cooperstown Dreams Park, they call this requirement “the only responsible course of action at this time...”
Although COVID-19 vaccinations for those younger than 16 are not yet available, Cooperstown says that they are “hopeful” that the vaccines will be accessible a minimum of 21 days prior to any registration date.
They also state that, if necessary, they will modify this registration date until a vaccine is available for those 12 and older.
But a Mississippi baseball team who was scheduled to play in a tournament at Cooperstown Dreams Park in June is calling this new vaccine requirement “a complete scam.”
According to Stephen Walker, whose 12-year-old son plays on the Mississippi Rangers, the youth baseball team sent Cooperstown a $4,000 deposit in October of 2020. The final deposit of $15,000 was due in March of this year, one month before the vaccine requirement was announced.
As well as the $19,000 paid to Coopertown Dreams Park by the Mississippi Rangers, the parents of those on the team had also purchased plane tickets to New York and rental houses for the week of the tournament.
Walker says this vaccine requirement is not a rule established by the New York Health Department but one implemented by Cooperstown Dreams Park alone.
When parents of the team asked Cooperstown for a refund, they were given several options including rolling the money over for next year’s tournament or requesting their final payment of $15,000 which would mean losing the $4,000 deposit.
Walker calls this stipulation “ludicrous” because Cooperstown “changed the contract.”
Walker has since contacted the chamber of commerce in Cooperstown, the better business bureau and the New York State Health Department.
He said the Cooperstown’s chamber of commerce was “appalled” at this new vaccine requirement but that all they could ask was that Walker fill out a formal complaint.
Walker says his next move will be to reach out to lawyers but was waiting for Cooperstown “to do the right thing.”
According to Cooperstown, if the vaccine is not available 21 days before a team is to play then that team’s week will be cancelled. If this were to happen, Cooperstown would still keep the team’s non-refundable $4,000 deposit.
“Four-thousand is a lot of money,” Walker says, “and we’re not just gonna sit back and just roll over and say ‘Yeah, you’re gonna keep that four grand.’ I’m trying to fight it every way possible.”
Cooperstown Dreams Park did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
UPDATE: Cooperstown Dreams Park has now updated their policy with three options now given to teams playing in their tournament:
Option 1 is that team’s hoping to play this year can withdraw up to three weeks prior or if their tournament week is canceled. Their final balance will be refunded and their $4,000 deposit will remain with grandfather certification.
Option 2 is that teams can withdraw now and get a refund of their final balance. Their $4,000 deposit will remain with a grandfather certificate.
Option 3 is that teams can withdraw now and email their form requesting a full refund. If they do this however, they must acknowledge the loss of the grandfather certificate.