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Lookouts Prep for New Ballpark Discussions

Chattanooga Lookouts

The Chattanooga Lookouts (Class AA; Southern League) are preparing for detailed discussions on a new ballpark, with hopes of stepping up those talks in the coming months  

The 141-acre former Wheland/U.S. Pipe foundry property and surrounding area is being considered as the site of a new ballpark that would serve as an anchor for other amenities. Further discussion will need to take place in order to make the concept a reality, but the venue has been billed by proponents as a way of bringing new development to the city’s South Broad District.

While that site has been reported as a contender for some time, there are still many questions as to how a ballpark proposal will take shape. The Lookouts believe that the coming months will be a key time to delve into discussions, according to John Woods, one of the team’s general partners. Woods notes that while a public-private partnership is the club’s preferred funding model, discussions with other entities will have to take place before more exact details can be realized. However, a master developer is expected to join the project in the fall, and Woods believes that will be the time for the Lookouts and other potential stakeholders to get deep into discussions about the project. More from The Times Free Press:

In a recent interview, Woods said the team’s preference is for a public-private partnership to finance the stadium project, though he didn’t get specific about funding.

“Later this year, we’ll sit down with the parties,” Woods said.

He said a so-called master developer of the 141-acre foundry tract off South Broad Street, which a recent study identified as the site for a new stadium and other development, should be on board by fall.

“Then, we’ll sit down and put pen to paper to figure out the economics,” Woods said. “Whatever is decided will be a fiscally responsible deal that’s great for the city.”

Woods is part of an ownership group that also includes operating partner Jason Freier, the Chairman/CEO of Hardball Capital. Under Freier, Hardball Capital has undertaken public-private partnership ballpark projects in other cities, including Fort Wayne (Parkview Field) and Columbia (Spirit Communciations Park). In both cases, the facilities were constructed through public-private projects that included a new ballpark and surrounding development.

The new ballpark is being discussed as a replacement for the Lookouts’ current home, AT&T Field. AT&T Field opened in 2000, but has fallen behind the standards of more modern Class AA ballparks that have opened in the years since.

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