Austin, Indiana, receives $50,000 grant from MLB for new baseball field
A small southern Indiana city received a big grant to help preserve America’s pastime.
AUSTIN, Ind. (WDRB) -- A small southern Indiana city received a big grant to help preserve America’s pastime.
Austin Community Park received at $50,000 grant from Major League Baseball and Scotts Lawn Care to redo the Ellsworth W. Chandler Ball Field. Several areas and cities across the country applied, and four were chosen as finalists, including Kansas City, New Jersey and Los Angeles.
“[Los Angeles] was affiliated with the Dodgers, and I am thinking ‘We’re not going to stand a chance with this,’” said Austin Clerk Treasurer Chris Fugate.
After online votes were cast, Austin won.
“We were in shock," Fugate said. "I mean, it was great for our community."
This is not the first time Austin has been in the national spotlight, and it hasn't always been positive. A couple years ago, the city had the highest rate of new HIV cases per capita in the country due to illegal drug use, a number which has significantly dropped since.
The grant money will pay for new clay, infield sod and drainage.
Baseball players at Austin Middle School often practice at night in order to use the park since the field at Austin High School is often used by its own team.
“We’ve had struggles to find a place to practice," said Middle School Assistant Coach Albert Watts. "We’ve been on the soccer field and everywhere else. The soccer field is about like a cow pasture. It’s pretty rough. Who knows what could come of this. Maybe these guys will be in the major leagues someday. Some of them, I seriously believe they have potential. To have something positive for these kids is just tremendous.”
Construction on the field is scheduled to begin at the end of the month and should be completed by mid-June.
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.