South Williamsport, Pennsylvania – Two nonprofits are scrambling to find a new way to raise money as major fundraisers will be affected by changes to parking and gate policies in the Little League.
For years, visitors across Route 15 have parked in Peter’s parking lot. The Beiter’s loan their parking lot to the Ronald McDonald House of Danville during the series for parking.
“In return, they help take control of the parking lot in our parking lot,” said Rob Peter.
But this year, Little League International announced new policies to enter the park.
All visitors wishing to access the complex will be required to enter through Gate 3, the main entrance located under the left line of the Volunteer Stadium along Champions Road.
According to Google Maps, it will take a pedestrian 22 minutes to walk the 1.2 miles from Beiter Square to the other side of the complex.
Without volunteers in its parking lot to direct parking, the store would have to put up “customer parking only” and “no stadium entry” signs and engage a towing company if necessary, Rob Peter said.
Worse, he said, the Ronald MacDonald organization would lose between $15,000 and $30,000 in donations.
“Ronald MacDonald’s home in Danville is grateful to our community partners and would like to thank Beiter’s for their wonderful partnership and support,” said Molly Ongst, director of marketing and events for the organization.
“While we are disappointed that we will not be able to continue this fundraising, we appreciate the focus on the safety of spectators and remain hopeful for new opportunities,” Ongst said.
Both Aungst and Beiter agree that the safety of Little League fans is of paramount importance. Crossing the busy road is dangerous, although there are police and cones along the road to monitor the traffic.
“I personally saw several calls up close, whether it was vehicle issues or pedestrian issues along the road during the minor league season,” Peter said.
Another organization losing out on fundraising, the Montgomery Lions is now looking for other ways to park. For years, they have used a plot of land next to Beiter’s where there was once a hotel.
“We lost last year for the same reason,” said George Nash of the Montgomery Lions.
But the persistence of the situation due to political changes worries Nash.
“We’ve been parking cars for 35-40 years,” he said. “Five years ago we were getting paid $5 and then started charging $10,” he said. “Many of our members belonged to the golf course, and they were lending a golf cart to take some people into the pool.”
But the group cannot move people from that area to Gate 3 without liability issues.
“Crossing 15th Street is horrible,” Nash agreed. But he is determined to find another way to continue raising money by parking the car during the series. “It’s the largest fundraiser, second only to homemade sauerkraut,” he said. “Last year we made 3,500 gallons, and they sell out in three days.”
“The Little League International team and law enforcement professionals annually evaluate improvements made to our Little League Baseball World Series security procedures,” the Little League said in a statement about the policy changes.
“We’ve updated our Baggage and Facility Access policies to address these security recommendations from our law enforcement partners. The safety and security of our players, families, and visitors is paramount.”
Peter noted that the unintended consequences of charities losing their place are not something Little League is talking about.
“But they have to take care of the thousands of visitors who come to watch the series,” he said.
Little League International will offer limited free parking at the South Williamsport Sports Complex near the Little League International Complex.
They also encourage visitors to use River Valley Transit (RVT) transportation services from nearby hotels and the downtown Williamsport area, as well as take advantage of the local tour sharing services available in the area.
The last expansion was 20 years ago when the Little League Baseball World Series moved to 16 teams.
With the expansion comes more teams, fans and fun. Also more traffic and the need to review and put in place new policies for safety and visitor pleasure, according to Little League International.
“We are thrilled to bring back our amazing fans from around the world this year as we come to celebrate 75 years of this incredible event, and we want to make sure the fan experience is as enjoyable and safe as possible,” said Patrick W. Wilson, Chief Operating Officer and Tournament Director of Little League International.