Stepping to the Plate for Carson Park
fundraising effort seeks $1.5m to maintain, upgrade historical ballpark
There is a fairly decent chance that you have, at some point, found your way to the Carson Park baseball stadium. Perhaps the reason for going didn’t involve actual baseball; you may have been there to see the circus, or fireworks, or a high school graduation. Many memories have been made since its completion in 1936; to make good memories in the future, some work should be done.
You may have heard of the efforts by the Carson Park Baseball Fundraising Group to gather money for stadium renovations. The campaign has been underway for part of this decade, and a new push has begun to match the $1.5 million pledged to the project by the city of Eau Claire. If the dollars are delivered, Carson Park will look noticeably more modern for the 2020s and beyond.
“This project is not so much about the baseball players and others on the field, but more about the fans and guests who grace the stands at the Carson Park baseball facility.” – Mark Faanes, chairman, Carson Park Baseball Fundraising Group
Mark Faanes, chairman of the group, has long been associated with Legion Baseball in Eau Claire. He noted that the most-significant part of the plan is replacement of the half-century-old metal bleachers – you know, the ones that are noticeably rusting. Permanent seating sections would be built in their place – with actual seats instead of metal bleachers – plus new restrooms and concession stands, and enhanced special needs viewing areas. Additionally, dugouts would be enlarged to accommodate modern team requirements and safety standards.
Faanes provided some historical insight as to why Carson Park has a bit of a hybrid arrangement. “The stadium was built back in the ’30s when we did not play baseball at Carson Park (or anywhere for that matter) in the early spring, so the plumbing in the historic stadium itself is not usable until temperatures warm and pipes thaw, which is usually in May. Accordingly concessions are not available and neither are the restrooms for the early season games/events.”
The point about better infrastructure for increased use beyond the warmest-weather months can mean more happenings at the ballpark. Faanes says that both early spring and later autumn dates would be added to the 160-175 events currently handled at the baseball stadium.
You may well wonder what Carson Park’s future would look like without these renovations. Sure, the stadium would remain intact, and baseball will be played in the venue, yet the status quo cannot hold. Says Faanes, “At some point very soon the bleacher systems at the ballpark will need to be replaced, there is no doubt about that. The fundraising effort hopes to make it something better than just a replacement of the existing bleachers.”
A lot of us are used to watching games on those long rows of metal; heck, there’s a certain pride in having an NFL stadium in this state still primarily filled with bleachers instead of individual seats. However, the opportunity is here to make an upgrade for the comfort of those who spend their summer – and spring, and maybe fall – watching baseball. According to Faanes, “This project is not so much about the baseball players and others on the field, but more about the fans and guests who grace the stands at the Carson Park baseball facility. The project will make for a better experience for all when attending an event there, be it in the early spring or throughout the year.”
To that point, Faanes and others involved with the Carson Park Baseball Fundraising Group are aware of the history in the entryways and the concourses of the stadium. “Generations past have made sure that this facility would be there for our current generation, this effort’s goal is to ensure the passing of this historic place to the next generation.”
The historic nature of Carson Park comes not only from longevity, but the folks on the field: Milwaukee Braves minor leaguers of the ’50s and ’60s like Hank Aaron, Bob Uecker, and Joe Torre; high school, Legion, and Cavaliers rosters stocked with players representing multiple generations from one of the best baseball regions in the state; and now the potential future Major League stars right before our eyes in the Northwoods League’s Eau Claire Express. With a little more financial support from the fans, the Carson Park Baseball Fundraising Group is ready to help the stadium fully complement the heritage. Says Faanes: “See you at the ballpark!”
To make a tax-deductible donation to the Carson Park Baseball Stadium Renovation Fund, which is overseen by the Eau Claire Community Foundation, visit eccfwi.org or send a check to ECCF at 306 S. Barstow St. Suite 104, Eau Claire, WI 54701. If you have questions about donating, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (715) 552-3801.