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Financial planning continues on new Chattanooga Lookouts ballpark

Work on a new Chattanooga Lookouts (Double-A; Southern League) ballpark proceeds, as the planners work to arrive at a guaranteed maximum price tag for the project soon.

Rising construction costs has been a huge concern in the ballpark world, as various new-ballpark projects have been hit hard by unexpected cost increases. This is not a problem unique to the sports world–we’re seeing it across the board in both private and public development–but it’s one that must be kept in mind in situation like this, where the Lookouts are looking to move to the new ballpark for the 2025 season.

The Lookouts and a group of developers had previously announced plans to build at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry site. The financial plan would create a 470-acre special tax district surrounding the eight-acre ballpark location, in a new South Broad District development. Increased tax revenues–state/local sales and property–generated by the development would be used to partially pay for the $79.4 million ballpark; the Lookouts would also pay $1 million annually in rent. A new entity, the Chattanooga Sports Authority, will own the ballpark and issue bonds for the project, with the Lookouts also committed to $45 million in future maintenance and other operational costs as well as booking events beyond the MiLB season.

The new ballpark would replace AT&T Field, a landlocked ballpark with limited development opportunities and a challenging path to meeting MiLB’s new facilities standards in 2025.

The goal is to issue the bonds before the end of the year, so the final cost estimate will be key in the process. From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

“We’re still working through the cost of the stadium,” Jermaine Freeman, interim chief of staff for Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly, said in an interview after a 10-minute meeting of the panel. The aim is for the replacement for AT&T Field, where the Lookouts now play downtown, to be ready for opening day 2025, Freeman said Thursday….

On Thursday, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Sports Authority agreed to authorize spending $355,600 for determining structural costs along with related deep foundation, concrete and structural steel work.

“If we didn’t do this today, we’d over-design and make bigger assumptions, which means bigger pieces of steel, which means bigger costs,” he said. “Spending a very small amount of money now helps us save a lot more money in final construction.”

Rendering courtesy Chattanooga Lookouts.

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