Coppinger Says Over $1 Billion In Development, Including $70 Million New Lookouts Stadium, To Be Announced At U.S. Pipe/Wheland Site

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

County Mayor Jim Coppinger said Wednesday that over $1 billion in development, including a new Chattanooga Lookouts stadium, will be announced on Thursday morning at the U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry site.

He said the development includes 120 acres and about nine acres will be for the $70 million stadium, which he said will not be just for the Lookouts but for community use.

He said the site, that has long been an eyesore along the city's I-24 entryway, will be dotted with offices, residential, restaurants and hotels. 

County Mayor Coppinger said Jim Irwin of New City Properties will oversee the project. He called him "one of the best master developers in the world."

The county mayor said details will be released at a press conference on Thursday at 11 a.m. at the site.

He also said a website about the huge project is ready and will be going live on Thursday.

County Commission Chairman Sabrena Smedley said the old manufacturing site that has long stood unused "is a terrible welcoming site as you come into our community."

In discussion at the County Commission meeting, it was stated that a Tax Increment Reinvestment District will be set up to help fund the stadium. The Lookouts now play at Hawk Hill, but have long sought a new location.

The county mayor said the city and county will be putting $1.5 million each into the project.

County Mayor Coppinger said the project is due to bring $40 million in new revenue for the county schools during the 30-year life of a bond issue.

He said it is hoped the bonds can be paid off sooner than the 30 years.

County Commissioner Tim Boyd said he has a number of concerns about the stadium portion of the project. He cited a study by a Massachusetts professor that warns cities and counties not to get involved in stadium financing.

He said there has been secrecy about the project, and he said he was surprised that Barry White, executive director of the Chattanooga Tourism Company knows nothing about it.

County Mayor Coppinger said it was necessary to have closed talks as negotiations have continued on the project.

He said the idea of a stadium at the site first emerged in 2015 and there was a public charette a couple of years later.

The county mayor said property owner Gary Chazen could have sold the property much earlier, but had waited to get the best possible project.

Commissioner Boyd said he was told that a Sports Authority is to be established in connection with the stadium development. 

He said he was concerned about the 30-year length of the bonds, saying the county normally uses 15-year bonds. He said, "That will put me at 100 years old when this thing gets paid off." 

 

 

 


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