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Engel Stadium’s new life: UTC intramural complex

Engel Stadium

Engel Stadium, a grand dame of the ballpark world and former home of the Chattanooga Lookouts (Class AA; Southern League), will see new life as home for University of Tennessee-Chattanooga intramural sports.

Chattanooga and local volunteers in the form of the Engel Stadium Foundation have been working for years on a game plan for preserving the historic ballpark, spending a half-million dollars on ballpark maintenance and working for a restoration a la Rickwood Field. These efforts will flow into the UTC efforts. From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

The stadium and its parking areas comprise 27 landlocked acres, according to UTC chancellor Steve Angle.

“This should be an asset for this community,” Angle said at a late morning news conference. “This will be a work in progress. We do not have this figured out yet.”

The Lookouts last played games at Engel Stadium during the 1999 season, but the facility built by Joe Engel was used in 2012 for the filming of the movie “42,” which was released in 2013. Last summer, it housed the Southern League home run derby won by touted Chicago Cubs prospect Kris Bryant.

Engel Stadium, built by Joe Engel for his Chattanooga Lookouts, opened in 1929 and was one of the great ballparks in Minor League Baseball. Engel was a master promoter, once drawing almost 25,000 fans out for a game where he gave away a house. He also put together the exhibition game with the New York Yankees where a 17-year-old local lass named Jackie Mitchell struck out Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth.

(Plug time: Joe Engel and Engel Stadium are prominent in our book, Never a Bad Game: Fifty Years of the Southern League, by the dean of Southern League writers, Mark McCarter. Check out the August Publications website for a description of the book and how to buy it.)

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