The City of Chattanooga will spend tens of millions of dollars to build a new baseball stadium for the Chattanooga Lookouts, a minor league affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds.
“For more than two decades, these 140 acres around us have sat vacant as a sad, rusting reminder of our wasted potential,” Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly said in a press conference from what used to be the U.S. Pipe site near I-24. “There have been no less than eight studies conducted on this site since 2003, but despite that, our western gateway has remained a blighted brownfield doing absolutely nothing to increase jobs, tourism or quality of life for our residents.”
“But I’m excited to share with you today that after years of studies and starts and stops, we now have an incredible opportunity before us to revitalize, renew and reinvest in this historic land in the south broad district,” Kelly said. “The city, the county and the state are coming together with the ownership group of a world-renowned master developer to transform this site into a vibrant new community where economic opportunity and quality of life will come together.”
Kelly said the construction will begin with building the new stadium for the Lookouts, but there will also be office spaces, retail locations, and restaurants built on the 141 acres, too.
“The planned stadium will host Lookouts games 20% of the year. The rest of the time, the stadium will be available to reserve for community events,” Kelly said. “And when the stadium is not occupied, it will be open to the public as a park where residents and workers can enjoy the public space.”
The cost of the project will total $80 million, which will reportedly be paid for mostly by property taxes. The City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County will each shell out $1.5 million up front for the project.
The news comes as Major League Baseball was considering ending the Lookouts affiliation with the league completely, due to concerns with its current stadium.
“Major League Baseball only cares about the physical facility that the players are playing in. In the physical facility, we had a problem with everything from the field to lighting to batting cages to bullpens to clubhouses. If you saw the list, it’s probably close to 100 violations,” Chattanooga Lookouts managing owner Jason Freier reportedly said.
But some in the city are unhappy with the planned build, saying that the city could spend its money elsewhere.
“Just a reminder that we have schools that look like this right now … . We as a county are about to place a baseball stadium as a higher priority than our students and schools,” said Hamilton County School Board member Tucker McClendon.
Just a reminder that we have schools that look like this right now….
— Tucker McClendon (@TuckerMcClendon) June 29, 2022
Kelly contends that the new stadium will generate revenue for the city that can then be spent fixing other problems.
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