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Freier: New Foundry-Area Ballpark Could Be Chattanooga “Game-Changer”

Chattanooga LookoutsAs discussions over the redevelopment of a former foundry site for a Chattanooga Lookouts (Class AA; Southern League) ballpark continue, Hardball Capital CEO Jason Freier is weighing in on the possibility of a project.

Last week, news surfaced that a new ballpark was one of the options that is being floated as a potential project for the 141-acre former Wheland/U.S. Pipe foundry property and surrounding area. If constructed, the ballpark would be aimed as part of a larger redevelopment plan that would include mixed-use amenities.

Freier and Hardball have a track record of completing similar ballpark endeavors in other cities, including Fort Wayne’s Parkview Field and Columbia’s Spirit Communications Park. A project along those lines could eventually take shape in Chattanooga, and give the Lookouts a ballpark to replace AT&T Field.

Freier believes that a ballpark and related investment could be a “a game-changer” for the area, but notes that more discussions will have to take place. More from The Times Free Press:

Two meetings held last week drew a large number of people with ideas for the district, and planners are to report back Sept. 11 with a framework to guide the area’s future.

Freier, a Lookouts managing partner along with John Woods for the past three years, said they’ve already shown the foundry landowners two examples of how new minor league ballparks have served as catalysts for redevelopment in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Columbia, S.C.

In each instance, he said, “large, complicated public- private partnerships” were used to develop the projects.

“Everybody at the table had meaningful skin in the game,” said Freier, who is managing owner of the teams in the two other cities. “That’s the way we’ve done things.”

In Chattanooga, he said, his group, public officials and the foundry landowners, Perimeter Properties, aren’t at the point yet to know what the partnership would look like.

AT&T Field opened in 2000, and lacks many of the modern amenities fan have come to expect, including a 360-degree concourse or unique social spaces.

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