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Enshrinement Weekend Rolls In With Visitors To Area

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — All eyes are on western Massachusetts as basketball’s greats and their fans descend upon the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield.  The Class of 2014 began entertainment ceremonies Thursday.  Things kicked off with a jacket ceremony and introductory press conference in the afternoon. The headliners of this year’s class is Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning as well as long time Commissioner David Stern. Basketball fans of all ages flocked to the hall  for a chance to see the greats and be a part of sports history.

“I just feel like them, they’re big sports fans, its important for them to see history and get to see the players up close, a chance to shake their hand, and just see how tall those guys really are,” Jim Cofsky of Springfield said. “It’s amazing and the fact it happens right here in springfield so close to home is a great opportunity.”

Other notable stars set to be on hand tomorrow include Nate Archibald, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Of course, local businesses love the boost this all brings to their bottom line. It’s seeing the hoop stars that drew the Ravaschiere family from Vermont.

“It’s amazing, I’ve never been this close to actually hall of famers,” Nicholas Ravaschiere said. “It’s been amazing seeing all these guys, like speechless.”

His father, John Ravaschiere, believes that the Pioneer Valley is a good spot for the Basketball Hall of Fame because it offers a lot to do.

“You look for more than one thing to do so between the amusement park, if there was a casino here you could see shows, do things like that as well as the Hall of Fame,” John Ravaschiere said. “I think the more activities you have, there’s more that can attract the whole family.”

And for local merchants that means a boost in business. Samuel’s Sports Bar says they look forward to enshrinement weekend each year because it draws new people to the area.

“We are here primarily for parking and for accommodating any of the guests so it’s a really busy weekend,” Phillip Thornsbury of Valet Park of America said.

“It’s great for business, it’s really exciting,” Nicole Pollard said. “People love to sit out on our patio. It fills up. You know, it’s all part of being here. People love to sit here and watch people come in and out of the Hall of Fame.”

While the money is good, it comes at the cost of controlled chaos. Still, most workers say rubbing elbows with star hall of famers isn’t so bad, either.

“We get so see some legends, like I just saw Bill Russell walk right by me,” Thornsbury said. “That’s pretty epic  because I’m a huge Celtics fan.”

“Charles Barkley has come in before,” Pollard said. “He’s one of our great customers so everyone kind of really looks forward to that. It’s really exciting.”

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