South Williamsport, Pa. — Two non-profit organizations are scrambling for a new way to raise money because their main fundraisers will be impacted by changes to Little League’s parking and gate policies.
For years, visitors have parked across Route 15 in Beiter’s parking lot. Beiter’s lends their parking lot to the Ronald McDonald House of Danville during the series to park cars.
“In return, they help control the parking in our lot,” said Rob Beiter.
But this year, Little League International announced new policies for entering the park.
All visitors who want to access the complex will be required to enter through Gate 3, the main entrance located down the left-field line of Volunteer Stadium along Champions Way.
According to Google maps, it would take a pedestrian 22 minutes to walk the 1.2 miles from the Beiter’s lot to the other side of the complex.
Rob Beiter said that without the volunteers on his parking lot to direct parking, the store will have to put up “customer parking only” and “no stadium entry” signs and engage a towing company to tow cars if necessary.
Worse, he said, the Ronald McDonald organization will lose between $15,000 and $30,000 in donations.
“The Ronald McDonald House of Danville is grateful to our community partners and would like to thank Beiter’s for their wonderful partnership and support,” said Molly Aungst, the organization’s director of marketing and events.
“While we are disappointed we won’t be able to continue with this fundraiser, we appreciate the emphasis on the safety of spectators and remain hopeful for new opportunities,” Aungst said.
Aungst and Beiter both agree that the safety of the Little League fans is paramount. Crossing the busy road is dangerous, despite the presence of police and cones along the road for traffic control.
“I’ve personally seen several close calls, both vehicle issues and pedestrian issues along the roadway during Little League season,” Beiter said.
Another organization to lose out on fundraising, the Montgomery Lions are now searching for other ways to park cars. For years, they’ve used the lot next to Beiter’s where a motel once stood.
“We lost out last year for the same reason,” said George Nash of the Montgomery Lions.
But the permanence of the situation due to policy changes worries Nash.
“We’ve been parking cars for 35-40 years,” he said. “We were charging $5 five years ago, and then we started charging $10. Several of our members belong to the golf course, and they would lend a golf cart to take some people to complex,” he said.
But the group can’t shuttle people from that lot to Gate 3 without liability issues.
“Crossing Route 15 is terrible,” Nash agreed. But he’s determined to find another way to continue to raise money via parking during the series. “It is our biggest fundraiser second to our homemade sauerkraut. Last year we made 3,500 gallons, it sells out in three days,” he said.
“Little League International and law enforcement professionals annually assess enhancements to our security procedures for the Little League Baseball World Series,” Little League said in a statement about the policy changes.
Related reading: New policies in store for Little League World Series visitors as series expands
“We have updated our bag policy 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.”
The unintentional consequences of the charities losing their spot isn’t something the Little League organization is talking about, Beiter noted.
“But they have to care about 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’re also encouraging visitors to use the shuttle services provided by River Valley Transit (RVT) from nearby hotels and the downtown Williamsport area, as well as take advantage of local ride share services available in the area.
The 2022 event will expand from 16 teams to 20 teams from around the world, simply to give more kids and families an opportunity to experience the World Series, according to the organization.
The last expansion was 20 years ago when the Little League Baseball World Series moved to 16 teams.
Related reading: Little League World Series set to return with full roster of events, teams in 2022
With expansion comes more teams, fans, and fun. Also more traffic and the need to review and set new policies for safety and visitor enjoyment, according to Little League International.
“We are thrilled to bring back our amazing fans from all over the world this year as we come to celebrate 75 years of this great event, and we want to make sure that the fan experience is as enjoyable and safe as possible,” said Patrick W. Wilson, Little League International chief operating officer and tournament director.