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City looks to federal COVID rescue fund to improve Merchants Park

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ba merch park 21-07-26

Fans and teams stand for the national anthem just prior to the start of the first State baseball tournament game held at Merchants Park in 2021. The stadium hosted 14 games in four days, and every single game featured a full grandstand as fans from every corner of the state made their way to watch at least one game. Official numbers place between 6,000-8,000 fans showing up each day to watch the games.

Carroll City officials are considering applying for a $600,000 to $700,000 federal grant through the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the massive pandemic relief President Biden signed earlier this year, to fund a series of improvements at Merchants Park — a feature local leaders see as a tourism magnet.

The money would go toward what is expected to be an $800,000 plan that would create foul-ball screening, improve and expand the press box, deepen the dugouts, fund a new outfield fence and wind screen, raise bleachers on the first and third base lines and add new lights.

The City of Carroll already is expecting $1.4 million in federal COVID relief money that elected officials are slating for other infrastructure and projects.

The stadium grant application would be for additional money the federal government has set aside in a $240-million fund to be awarded to 150 projects around the nation that boost travel, tourism or outdoor recreation. The U.S. Commerce Department expects to award grants of between $100,000 and $10 million for each approved plan.

The grant request requires an initial engineering report, so the Carroll City Council is expected to vote on Monday on a proposed agreement for such work with West Des Moines engineering firm Shive-Hattery for $16,900.

The expected funding split on the stadium plan would likely be 80 percent federal and 20 percent local, City Manager Mike Pogge-Weaver said.

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