The City of Merrill Parks & Recreation Department announced Thursday that it was recently awarded a $45,000 grant from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF), the grant program supported by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association designed to promote youth baseball and softball participation. The grant will provide funding for the installation of new field lighting at Athletic Park. The lighting equipment will be provided at a significant discount courtesy of Musco Lighting, Inc., a preferred provider of BTF.
Athletic Park is a local historic landmark, a field which was once played by Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell and Shoeless Joe Jackson. The field now serves various leagues from youth Little League through to adult baseball, hosting approximately 120 baseball games and tournaments per year. The BTF grant will provide funding for the replacement of the 50-year-old lighting with LED equipment. The project will extend hours of play and accommodate fall baseball, allowing for additional teams in each division. The project is scheduled to begin in August for completion in December 2018.
Parks & Recreation Director, Dan Wendorf says, “We are extremely excited for this wonderful opportunity to replace the lights at our beautiful and historic Athletic Park. We cannot thank our grant co-sponsors, Merrill Area Public Schools and CESA 9 for helping make this happen. We are especially thankful to Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association for helping us complete this community project and continue to promote and provide more and enhanced baseball opportunities for future generations.“
“The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is honored to support the growing youth baseball and softball programs in Merrill,” said Cathy Bradley, Executive Director of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. “On behalf of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, we thank the City of Merrill Parks & Recreation Department for its efforts to provide safe, quality facilities to encourage young players learn and enjoy the game. A special thanks to our partner, Musco Lighting, Inc., for generously helping to bring much-needed projects like this one to fruition.”
Merrill Area Public Schools Activities Director, John Miller says, “The partnership between the City of Merrill, Athletic Park, and the Merrill Baseball program is strong and storied. To be selected as a recipient of the Baseball Tomorrow Grant will assist with the upgrade of a historical landmark to the City of Merrill and Merrill Baseball. This project aligns with our vision that Merrill Area Public Schools Activities Department will collectively work for maximum participation so students can benefit from activities that are an extension of the classroom and community. Thank you to Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball Players Association and all other grant partners for making this possible for our community.”
The City of Merrill Parks & Recreation Department accepts in-kind and monetary contributions for its youth sports programs and facilities. Those interested in donating to the project may contact Dan Wendorf at 715-536-7313.
The City of Merrill Parks & Recreation Department provides active and passive year-round recreation programs, parks and athletic facilities, and green spaces for all to enjoy. We work closely with user groups, special interests, and sports organizations to help facilitate leagues, tournaments, and events to promote active lifestyles and community involvement.
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund (BTF) is a joint initiative between the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball designed to promote the growth of youth baseball and softball throughout the world by awarding grants to support field renovation and construction projects, equipment and uniform purchases, coaches training material and other selected program expenses. Since its formation by the MLBPA and MLB in 1999, BTF has awarded more than 1,000 grants totaling over $34 million to non-profit and tax-exempt organizations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and Asia. BTF also facilitates league-wide initiatives including the collection and distribution of new and gently used equipment to organizations in need as well as field maintenance education clinics. For more information, visit baseballtomorrowfund.com and follow BTF on Facebook and Twitter.