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Catoosa County will make improvements to the Poplar Springs Baseball Complex, a move officials hope will bring money in to the community.

Planned improvements include construction of a new building for concessions, restrooms and a dual-purpose office and umpires' lounge. Repairs will be made to damaged areas of the infield, which will receive other upgrades such as laser grading, new dirt and installation of a new irrigation system.

Field fencing will be replaced, and new dugouts, two batting cages, and a new ramp and stairs from the parking area into the complex will be constructed. Plans also include paving all gravelled areas within the complex, Recreation Director Caitlin Conduff said.

The Catoosa County Board of Commissioners recently approved a construction contract for the work with Integrated Properties, which was the lowest of six bidders with a bid of $1.7 million. That amount is expected to be reduced with changes to the engineering of the irrigation system design.

The project will be funded by 2019 special-purpose local option sales tax funds designated for recreation.

Commissioner Charlie Stephens said the investment will pay off because the fields should help draw tournament attendees who will spend money in the area.

"Looking through this whole project, it is costly at first but I know the business, what can be brought in in the county," he said. "The tournament world is big money."

He said he knows of tournaments in Dalton and Chattanooga that brought in $3 million to $4 million a week to those communities.

Conduff said any profits made through tournaments also help keep registration fees low for the county's children participating in recreational sports.

Stephens added that the board committed to investing in recreation and the county's children, more than 800 of whom play sports through county recreation programs.

"We've got 800 kids and they're off the streets and they're not out here making trouble," Stephens said. "The children are our future and we're investing in them, giving them an opportunity to do something they love."

Email Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com.

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