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Ingham County Fairgrounds to receive federal funding for a new grandstand

A mockup of the new grandstand
Arjun Thakkar
Officials presented a mock-up rendering Wednesday of the new grandstand to be constructed in Mason.

The Ingham County Fairgrounds is set to receive millions of dollars to construct a new grandstand.

Representative Elissa Slotkin joined officials in Mason on Wednesday to announce $2.5 million in funding for a new grandstand. The project was one of 15 mid-Michigan community projects that the congresswoman earmarked in a federal spending bill last year.

The original grandstand at the county fairgrounds was built in 1939 and provided covered seating for events. It was torn down in 2016 because of structural issues.

An image of Elissa Slotkin with local officials at the Ingham County Fairgrounds banquet hall.
Arjun Thakkar
Rep. Elissa Slotkin stands in front of local officials to discuss federal funding for a new grandstand at the Ingham County Fairgrounds.

Slotkin said she had been hearing constituents request funding for a new structure since she was first elected in 2018. She added the community support was critical to approving the funds as local projects need to demonstrate high interest to receive federal grants.

“This is a story of two things: advocacy, impassioned advocacy working, and then different levels of government not giving a hoot about whether we're Democrats or Republicans working together for a common goal,” Slotkin said.

Slotkin presented the project with Mason Mayor Pro Tem Leon Clark, Ingham County Fairgrounds Events Director Lindsey McKeever, and Ingham County Board of Commissioners Chairperson Ryan Sebolt.

McKeever said the budget for the grandstand was about $2.2 million and did not include plans for bathrooms and other infrastructure components that the community would need to finance with additional fundraising. She called the structure "the pulse" of events at the fairgrounds.

"With this grant of federal funding secured by the honorable Congresswoman Slotkin, the fairgrounds will regain its heartbeat, and with it the opportunity to continue to provide a space for families to make lifelong family memories," McKeever said.

Slotkin said it’ll take around six-to-eight months for the federal dollars to be transferred to the county. She said she's unsure if members of Congress will be able to continue funding local projects under the new Republican Majority in the House of Representatives.

She added the grandstand will attract visitors and enhance the quality of events in the community, noting she hopes to participate in a demolition derby at the fairgrounds.

“The economic opportunity that a facility like that drives is going to be exponential for Mason but throughout the county,” Slotkin said.

Arjun Thakkar is WKAR's politics and civics reporter.
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