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Detroit uses $14M in federal COVID-19 funds for a sports dome

Covid relief has an expansive definition, by design

Sen. Debbie Stabenow boasted on X that Detroit will spend $14 million it received from the federal government for COVID-19 recovery to construct a sports dome at Chandler Park. “Three years later, the American Rescue Plan is still making important investments in our communities. Great to see Detroit breaking ground on the Chandler Park Fieldhouse!” Stabenow posted.

President Joe Biden lobbied for and signed into law a $1.9 trillion spending package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act, to “meet the urgent needs of American communities,” according to the Economic Development of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Michigan received $6.5 billion. Most of it was distributed to local governments.

The White House said on its website that the spending plan would provide financial aid to help various employers — including government agencies and small businesses — retain workers.

CapCon reported in December 2020 that 35.8% of Michigan businesses closed their doors during the year. Some businesses were able to secure grants and forgivable loans that helped them reopen. Others could not secure money quickly enough and folded.

Numerous local governments chose to use some of their ARPA funding on building projects, including the one at the Chandler Park, which has a water park, skate park, golf course and basketball courts. It also has a field for football, soccer and lacrosse. Visitors must pay for some of the park’s features, including the water park, must pay admission.

Detroit is not the only local government that has considered using federal relief funds for recreation projects. The Lenawee County Board of Commissioners had once planned to use $10 million of the county’s COVID money on a sports complex that would have cost $90 million to build.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.