A transfer of Engel Stadium management to a nonprofit will help preserve the historic former home of the Chattanooga Lookouts (Class AA; Southern League), which is sorely in need of some TLC.
Engel Stadium opened in 1929 and is very much a product of the era, with the classic grandstand and brickwork throughout the grounds. It’s not been maintained very well since the Lookouts moved to AT&T Field, as a lack of money has cut back on some essential repairs.
Enter the Engel Stadium Foundation, which has been working hard to gain control of the ballpark. It’s not been an easy task — the city and county have already signed off on a transfer of the property to University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, and the state approval is still forthcoming — but there’s seemingly a light at the end of the tunnel.
The foundation has some big plans for the ballpark, which are being encapsulated in a business plan. There are a number of issues involved: the surrounding neighborhood isn’t that good, the ballpark condition is deteriorating (though the basic structure is sound) and UTC, which will own the facility, just has a club baseball team at the moment. A museum is also under discussions; given the many greats to have played at Engel (Satchel Paige, Harmon Killebrew, Jackie Mitchell), space dedicated to history is in order.
The obvious blueprint for revitalizing Engel Stadium is Birmingham’s Rickwood Field, where a dedicated group of volunteers stemmed decades of deterioration and brought the place back to a living, workable ballpark.
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