A Guide to the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Tickets, Seating Chart, Parking, and More Tips for Cooperstown, NY.
  • September 13, 2021

Have you ever wondered to how to get seats up close for the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony?  Perhaps you've tried to figure out the seating chart, or where players sign autographs. We've got all the tips you need to enjoy your next trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY!

Last week I went to Cooperstown, NY. to see Derek Jeter and the class of 2020 be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I was very fortunate to secure tickets in the reserved section to see The Captain take his place among the greats of the game.  As this was my first trip sitting in the reserved area, I wasn't sure where the seats were; I couldn't find a seating chart on-line!  What time did I have to be at the site?  Where should I stay in town? How about parking? So. Many. Questions.  After having a wonderful time last week, I want to share all of my tips with you so that you can have a great time when you go!

LOCATION

The induction takes place at the Clark Sports Center, about one mile South of the Hall of Fame on Susquehanna Ave and not actually at the Hall. You'll need to walk or take transportation that the HOF will provide; more on that shortly. 


TICKETS AND SEATING

Seating for the ceremony is free if you'd like to sit on the lawn! If you'd like to bring a lawn chair, blanket, or tent, and enjoy the ceremony from the lawn, you don't need to buy a ticket or enter any information - just show up.  This year, fans were allowed to place their items out the night before the induction.  The site opened up the following day and you could venture up to your lawn chairs. If you want to sit on the lawn, your seats will be to the left of the the reserved seats or behind the reserved seats.  If you choose to set up a tent, you'll be up on the hill behind everyone center stage.

I personally opted for the RESERVED seats - the white chairs you see in the middle of the center, close to the stage. To obtain the reserved seats, I became a member of the Hall of Fame under the President's Circle membership which costs $500. With the membership (among other things) came two reserved seats to the induction ceremony that arrived shortly before the event. There was no guest list or name checking when I arrived; ushers just checked your ticket section.  The $350 membership included 1 ticket and the $1,000 membership included 4 tickets if you need fewer or more than two tickets.

Tickets

My ticket was labeled 3A, but with no seat number or map, and no time of when and where to go on the morning of the induction.  The website states the site would open up at 8:00 AM and the event was at 1:30 PM - would I need to wait that entire time despite having a ticket? 

I arrived to the induction site around 10:00 AM and noticed a VERY long line just to the right of the stage.  The sign was labeled with sections 3 and 3A.  Learning the hard way here.  Even though other people had reserved seating, the seats were still first come, first serve, and the line for these sections started forming around 8:00 AM when the site re-opened.  Everyone with tickets 3 or 3A, regardless of the section or ticket color, was in the  same, long line.  Even if you have reserved seats, ARRIVE EARLY!  Get there when the site opens. Here was the line to enter the reserved seating section:

Line to Enter

Gates opened at 12:00 PM for the reserved section, and still without a seat map, I ventured in.  There were three sections, each split into three parts.  The FRONT portion of seating was section  "1" and was closest to the stage.  Section 1 had a left, right, and middle section.  Roughly 8 rows were available in each of the three sections in area 1.  This is where family and guests sat!  For example, Derek Jeter's wife and kids were in the first section, all the way stage right. Some guy named Michael Jordan sat down near me, too.

Section 2 was for media members, and possibly more friends.  The same set up - about 8 rows with three sections (left, right, and middle).  Section 2 was directly behind Section 1.  So if you sat in Section 2, row 1, you were roughly in the 9th row from the stage.

Section 3A (hey, that's me!) was next.  There were three sections again in 3A.  I was allowed to sit in any empty seat I wished in the section, so obviously I sat in the front row.  I was directly behind the family and friends of the Hall of Famers! I chose the middle portion of Section 3A with a direct line of sight to the stage, which was now only about 16 rows in front of me.

2021 HOF Induction Seating

If you don't mock me for the member button, lanyard, and hat, you can see the small sections 1 and 2 behind me, and I'm next to the media tables.  I've got the whole tour guide getup down.

Behind me was section 3 (no A).  There were many more rows in section 3 than in 3A, and was also holding the three sections of left, right, and middle.  Nobody answered as to why I was given the more desirable 3A section, but I think this was for the longevity as a member of the Hall of Fame; I have been a member for several years.

Here is a look behind me with my section, 3A, and then section 3 behind me.

Seats Behind Me 2

 

TRANSPORTATION AND PARKING

Cooperstown, NY, is TINY!  A very small town means little to no parking.  Main Street, where the Hall is located, and Susquehanna were closed down for traffic - only local residents could drive through.

To find parking, I actually stayed at the Lake Front Hotel and booked WELL in advance. If you're planning on staying in town, make sure to book out as far as you can; these places will fill up quickly. This particular hotel is about a minute walk from the Hall and offers a lovely view of Otsego Lake (Glimmerglass). More importantly, there is street parking just outside of the hotel parking lot, and it's free!  After checking into the hotel, instead of parking in the hotel's lot (where I would have needed to checkout at 11:00 AM and have no parking), I moved the car a solid 10 feet from the hotel lot to the street the night before.  I secured a free parking spot, near the Hall, the night before!  Here was the view from my room, and the parking lot.  Just on the other side of the row of cars on the left is the street, with a few parking spots.

Hotel

If you're looking for parking otherwise, there are lots around town that offer spots for a fee.  On induction day, the cheapest I could find was for $40, all day, in a lot on Chestnut Street. This parking lot was cash only and the lot is also very close to the Hall of Fame.  There are several lots like this in town but some could cost up to $100.  Early is key again - early bird gets the parking spot.  I was in town a day early so parking was only $20 all day, but this is the same lot on Chestnut Street:

Parking

The HOF posted Trolley parking sites, too.  Free parking in lots a little further from the Hall and Induction site but the trolley would run all day and would cost $5.00.  You could take the trolley to the Hall of Fame.  I found a trolley lot in the Yellow Lot on Route 80 (Lake Street), which is 1.4 miles away from the Hall of Fame.  If you're standing on the steps of the Hall of Fame, walk straight down to the Lake and take a left for about a mile; can't miss it.

The Hall of Fame then provided busses for FREE that drove you over and back from the Induction site!  The busses would pick you up right at the Hall of Fame. It took the bus TO the site and walked back.

Bus

Walking to Site

If you don't want to walk, make sure to take the transportation.  If you can't snag a spot at a hotel like I did, your best bet is to get the cheap lot early and walk to the induction site.

FOOD AND DRINK

You can bring your own food and drinks to the ceremony if you opt for the free lawn seating.  For the reserved seats, the Hall provided me with free bottles of water all day.  The local high school was also selling hot dogs, burgers, chips, and drinks at the site (cash!) at very reasonable prices. I bought a bag of chips for $3.00 and a Gatorade for $3.00.  I was allowed to bring all of this back to my seat.

If you need a porta potty, many were on site both in the reserved and free seating areas.

AUTOGRAPHS

You're not allowed to ask for autographs at the induction ceremony, but if that's what you came into town for, you have many chances during the day before, and sometimes day of, and after.

I use an app called Crave the Auto that lists paid signings. Players often sign, for a fee, at all of the shops in town.  Mariano Rivera signed at 7th Inning Stretch which is on the same road as the Hall of Fame during the morning of the induction.  I met Reggie Jackson at Safe at Home the day before the ceremony just a few stores down from Mo's appearance.  

Reggie1

Reggie2

Some collectors try to get free autographs were the Hall of Famers stay and golf at - the Otesaga. Note that you're not allowed into the hotel - they do not even allow bookings while the Hall of Famers are in town. Some of the players will sign upon arrival, though. Security is at every entrance! 

If you take a right out of the Otesaga hotel parking lot and walk or drive down just a tad, there is a little stone wall along the road where the Leatherstocking Golf course meets up at.  Collectors will sit in a lawn chair and wait for players to come over when the reach the hole nearest the road.

Hall of Famers and guests will sometimes just wander the town and visit the Hall of Fame.  While I was there,  I heard Joe Torre went into the Hall of Fame, and Yankees GM', Brian Cashman, ate dinner at Nicoletta's. Andruw Jones was signing autographs for a crowd of people on Main Street the night before the induction, too, as he was making way out of where he at dinner. One of the more unique thing I saw: Larry Walker's dad was behind me at the Hall of Fame shop just looking for items to buy. I took a photo of Mr. Walker as he came out of the HOF:

Larry Walkers Dad

 

The player's do make an appearance in the Plaque gallery to sign the backs of their plaques, too - you should read the fun story behind that one HERE.

Derek Jeter HOF Plaque

Make sure to check the Hall of Fame's website for all of the seating, times, and official information but hopefully these tips help you understand where you're sitting, where to park, and how to snag autographs when you go to the next induction ceremony! Like may before me, I listened to my better half, as my wife did most of the great planning on this trip which hopefully helps you.  Thank you, Darcy 😁

 

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