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Changes on tap in Chattanooga?

Chattanooga LookoutsAtlanta businessman John Woods has signed a letter of intent to buy the Chattanooga Lookouts (Class AA; Southern League), with Hardball Capital‘s Jason Freier acting as a consultant to the deal.

The Lookouts are owned by Frank Burke, Charles Eshbach and the estate of the late Dan Burke. It’s not clear whether the sale of the team would also include AT&T Field, the privately owned home of the Lookouts. Right now Woods has a letter of intent to buy the Lookouts; a purchase agreement would be next.

We expect to be announcing many team sales in coming months: the remainder of the Mandalay Baseball Properties portfolio — the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Class AAA; International League), Oklahoma City RedHawks (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) and Erie SeaWolves (Class AA; Eastern League) — sales should be announced before the end of the season (and probably right around Winter Meetings time), and we’ll be seeing sales announced in the Northwest League and Carolina League. With multiple Southern League and Pioneer League teams for sale as well, there should be lots of franchise news in coming months — though, we hasten to add, most of the teams on the market are staying put.

But for now, back to Chattanooga, where Woods is negotiating to buy the team, in a second attempt by owners to sell the Lookouts. From the Times-Free Press:

“I have no interest going into this deal to move the Lookouts,” Woods said. “I don’t have any interest in buying a team in the city I grew up in only to move it. That would not be my interest going into this deal.”

Woods has signed a letter of intent and continues to work toward a purchase agreement, which is a status that has remained unchanged for the last several weeks. He said the earliest for a potential sale would be late October or early November and politely requested no more interviews for a couple of months.

“I’ve got football to focus on,” said a laughing Woods, who is the stepfather of University of Kentucky twin defensive backs Daron and Zack Blaylock.

A big issue for Woods and perhaps Freier: the potential of a new home for the Lookouts. Hardball Capital was successful in leveraging the construction of Parkview Field in Fort Wayne with investments in the ballpark area; in all, moving the Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low Class A; Midwest League) downtown generated some $100 million in new investment in the area, according to Hardball Capital estimates.


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