Pat Benson: Save The Lookouts

Major League Baseball is planning to announce a proposal that would cut the number of minor league teams from 160 to 120 by 2021, and the Lookouts are on the list of teams to be contracted. The thinly veiled motive for this move is to get these teams to upgrade their facilities, and slash minor league payroll. I love baseball and the Lookouts, so I’ll take the bait.

If you polled Chattanoogans on whether they prefer Historic Engel Stadium or the 20-year old AT&T Field, the resounding answer would be Engel. Unfortunately, those days are over and team owners want a shiny new publicly financed stadium to increase the team’s value every quarter century. 

Publicly financed stadiums are not so much an investment as they are a boondoggle. There are few things economists agree on, but one of them is that stadiums don’t make the return on investment. Not to mention, everyday people (like myself) hate handing rich people a taxpayer-funded gift.

That’s why it pains me to say that I’m alright with the city, county and other quasi-public stakeholders working together to build a new stadium for the Lookouts. I feel this way for two reasons. First, the Lookouts are part of the fabric of our town, and they consistently lead the minors in attendance.

Second, our local government has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars on things which we’ve never benefited. Silly studies, corporate handouts, land grabs, failed reforms, and inefficient projects. That’s not an excuse to spend recklessly, but rather to say we can find the necessary funds in between the seat cushions of local government.

Chattanooga has plenty of bright minds and bold visionaries. We’re the city of Joe Engel, P.R. Olgiati, and Bob Corker. We could put together a plan for a multi-purpose facility that could serve as the home for the Lookouts.

I’m no architect, but it would be inspiring to see a new stadium that incorporates elements of our rich baseball history and represents our forward thinking. An environmentally friendly stadium built on the southside of town overlooking the Tennessee River would serve as the perfect next chapter in Chattanooga baseball history.   

So, if you support the idea, what would you like to see in a new stadium?


Pat Benson has been a sideline reporter, P.A. announcer, and radio personality. Tweet him @Pat_Benson_Jr

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