22 Questions And Concerns About A New $79.5 Million Lookouts Stadium

Saturday, July 2, 2022
This is the cover of a 44-page master plan paid for by Lyndhurst and managed by River City back in 2008
This is the cover of a 44-page master plan paid for by Lyndhurst and managed by River City back in 2008
The proposal for the Lookouts stadium brings forth several questions that I have not gotten good answers yet from anyone.

1.  If the 10 acres Gary Chazen is donating is worth $10,000,000, why doesn’t he and his partners just sell the 140 acres and go to the bank with over $100,000,000?

2.  There has been over a billion dollars of new construction in downtown Chattanooga over the past 12 years without a new stadium.
Chattanooga’s growth has no indications of slowing down without a new baseball stadium.

3.  $40,000,000 for the schools over 30 years, so what?  The county has increased the schools’ budget by an average of over $10,000,000 per year in the last 10 years without a new Lookouts stadium.

4.  Why 30-year bonds and not 15-year bonds?

5. Why build a 7,000 seat stadium like the one in Columbia, S.C. when the average attendance for the team’s games is about 3,500?

6. Why an $80,000,000 stadium and not a $40,000,000 stadium?

7.  Will this stadium be relevant before the 30-year bonds are paid off? In New Jersey a stadium was built within the last 20 years using 30-year bonds and was torn down at a cost of $1,000,000 to the taxpayers who are today still paying on the originally issued bonds. 

8.  Why hasn’t there been community meetings within the last nine months to discuss this plan?

9.  Why have the meetings with the commissioners been behind closed doors and on bus trips?

10.  Who will guarantee the bonds?  A new Sports Authority will have no ability to sell bonds without the city of Chattanooga and the county’s guarantee.

11.  Will the Lookouts guarantee payments for 30 years even if a season is cancelled like in 2020?

12.  The debt service on $80,000,000 of bonds will be over $10,000,000 per year at current interest rates.  How will this be paid before there is enough buildings constructed to pay the debt with the increased property taxes promised by the mayors?

13.  If one studies the attendance of MLB affiliated minor league teams over the past 20 years one will realize a team only sees a very short-term spike in attendance after a new stadium is built that minor league team owners cannot afford to build without public backing and funding.  The owners cannot do any more to attract larger crowds without building a new stadium with taxpayers funding and those crowds historically diminish after three or four years.

14.  Why would elected officials agree to fund this project when the vast majority of the folks in Hamilton County are against it?  Over 80 percent are opposed per the Chattanoogan.com poll.

15. Will the $80,00,000 in remediation funding from EPA to clean up the site be available without the new baseball stadium?

16.  Chattanooga and Hamilton Co are attracting new folks moving to our community from all over the country.  I have not spoken to one of these newly transplanted residents that tell me they relocated here because of our Lookouts baseball team.

17.  Except for the Birmingham team,  the Lookouts of the AA-Southern league still draw some of the largest overall attendance numbers per season in their current stadium.  So who is really wanting a new stadium, the MLB or the Lookouts owners?

19.  Why hasn’t the Chattanooga Tourist Company (CTC) been a part of the discussions for a new stadium?  As of last Wednesday the CTC had not been involved in any way with any discussions.  It just seems reasonable that the organization that is involved with our largest sports events would have been at the table.

20.  Where is the economic impact study the stadium will have on our community? The riverfront businesses are hurting now with all of the new Sputhside developments.  How will businesses and residential housing north of MLK be further impacted with the development of the Wheland  site?

21.  What will happen to Finley Stadium once the new stadium is built.  The two stadiums will be competing for many of the same “year round” events. We all know Finley cannot sustain itself on UTC football and high school games alone.

22. What are the intentions of the Chattanooga Football Club once the new stadium is built?  Will they remain at Finley?

I am not adamantly opposed to the new stadium, but these are all legitimate questions that the citizens have a right to have answered. 

County Commissioner Tim Boyd

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