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Cost of new Chattanooga Lookouts ballpark now pegged at $120 million

The price of a new Chattanooga Lookouts ballpark is now estimated to be at $120 million, but the public contribution will remain capped under the terms of the development deal struck with the city and county.

The original price tag for the Southern League ballpark, part of a larger billion-dollar development plan, was $79.5 million. It’s envisioned as part of the first phase of the South Broad District costing $350 million, covering Class A office space, residential buildings and parkland. A new entity, the Chattanooga Sports Authority, will own the ballpark, but the Lookouts ownership already committed to $45 million in future maintenance and other operational costs as well as booking events beyond the MiLB season. 

The newer ballpark cost was not unexpected–it was pretty much predicted by all parties last week—as Chattanooga is not immune from the rising constriction price tags tallied across the nation. So that’s why there was little public gnashing of teeth among the project developers, as witnessed from this quote in the local media from Jim Irwin, master developer of the South Broad District: “As we watch prices escalate, we feel like we’re actually getting a great deal,” he told NewsChannel9. “For the quality of the stadium that we’ve designed…I think will it be, you know, certainly one of if not the best in the minor leagues.” A differing viewpoint came from Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp: “In order to move forward as partners in the weeks ahead, the developers and team owners need to be honest with taxpayers. The deal has certainly changed, the stadium is dramatically more expensive, and infrastructure costs on the Wheland site are largely unknown.”

The ballpark financial plan creates 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 ballpark; the Lookouts would also pay $1 million annually in rent. No general funds are involved, and public portion of the financing is capped.

The new ballpark would replace AT&T Field, a landlocked ballpark with limited development opportunities. The new ballpark is projected to open in the 2025 season.

Rendering courtesy Chattanooga Lookouts.

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