City provides first look at Carson Park baseball stadium updates

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Hitting the old out of the park to bring home the new is the $3.5 million plan for major upgrades to the Carson Park baseball stadium.

The City of Eau Claire is considering the renovation as part of its capital improvement five-year plan.

The updates would include replacing rusty, moveable, aluminum bleachers from the 1960's with safer permanent ones.

“They're at the end of their useful life and they're very dangerous. We don't think that they have the handrails that they should have, and they're very slippery when they're wet,” said Parks and Forestry director Phil Fieber.

Constructed in 1937 Fieber says the baseball stadium needs improved handicap accessibility and instead of the current portable toilets it would replace those with four season bathrooms.

Currently teams have to use portable toilets during the early, colder, months because the city is unable to turn the water on in the facility if the weather is freezing.

“We don't have the insulation around our plumbing to be able to open those restrooms any earlier which is a real problem for those high school teams,” explained Fieber.

The plan would also install somewhat controversial artificial turf on the baseball field.

Since there’s such a high demand for the grass field Fieber says it takes a beating which means only three games can be played a day but with artificial turf that could be expanded to five games a day.

“We could start playing here in March, we could snow blow the snow off the field and start playing the first time we have a nice sunny, 55 degree day,” said Fieber.

However, Joe Eisenhuth the athletic director at North High School says losing the natural grass to the turf will be hard.

“While the current field and grandstand facilities have been much appreciated over the years, the proposed renovation to the Carson Park Baseball Stadium would certainly provide great opportunities for the players, coaches, and fans,” Eisenhuth said in a statement.

Although, Fieber says the updates will make it a whole new ballgame for fans and players.

“What we'd be able to do is to make it a little more inviting for people to attend games here and enjoy baseball in Eau Claire,” he added.

The city would pay half of the $3.5 million with stakeholders, like Eau Claire Express, funding raising the rest.

Fieber says stakeholders will fundraise the total cost of the artificial turf while contributing $700,000 towards the grandstand project.

“They thought would be a little bit easier if they took on the artificial turf project completely themselves and then contributed $700,000 towards the grandstand project,” explained Fieber.

The Eau Claire City Council still has to approve the project but if passed Fieber says the goal is to install the grand stand by the end of 2017 with the turf in place at the end of the following summer.

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