Following approval from the Tennessee State Building Commission, historic Engel Stadium will be converted into an intramural sports complex. This plan from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC could give a new life to the former home of the Chattanooga Lookouts (Class AA; Southern League)
Though it hosted its final minor league game in 1999, Engel Stadium remains a part of baseball lure, having first opened for Joe Engel’s Lookouts in 1930. UTC took possession of the ballpark in 2011 and it has been in the public eye at various points since, including its use for production of the 2013 film 42, which depicted Jackie Robinson’s first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
Since a public announcement last year, UTC has been working to convert Engel Stadium and its surrounding land into a sports complex. At the time of the announcement, UTC officials called for Engel Stadium to be largely preserved, though expressed interest in adding a soccer field to the playing surface. The total area—27 acres, including the ballpark and parking lots—would also host four multipurpose fields, walking track, disc golf course, and a clubhouse.
While the $7.7 million needed to fund the project is largely in place, it will take time for the project to be completed. More from the Chattanooga Times Free Press:
After the meeting, [executive director of University of Tennessee’s office of capital projects Robbi] Stivers said the Engel complex proposal is “still in the design phase and then we’ll have to secure a contractor and then there’ll probably be, I guess, an 18-month construction period — maybe less — on what we’re doing out there on what structures are needed, what infrastructure is needed, etc.”
UTC officials outlined the project last year, saying it was intended to give new purpose to the 86-year-old minor league stadium where baseball greats like Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron once played while also opening it up for use by students and the surrounding community. The East Third Street stadium now is open only for special events.
Additions to the complex, which included the multipurpose fields and other amenities, resulted in the project’s price tag more than doubling from $3 million to $7.7. The bulk of the funding will come from two sources, with $4.8 million coming from Tennessee State School Board Authority bonds and another $2.8 in non-auxiliary plant funds.