UTC Hopes To Save Engel Grounds

News Channel 9
March 30, 2011
by John Madewell

The city of Chattanooga padlocked historic Engel Stadium because of the danger within the 81 year old stadium.

The city and Hamilton County transferred the stadium to UTC, but nothing has happened. The university said red tape, sewer problems and safety concerns delayed the legal transfer of ownership. Dr. Richard Brown, Vice Chancellor, said the padlock wasn't a surprise, but the school had hoped to gain official control before this happened.

However, UTC has a plan, which has been in the works for four years, to breathe life into the grounds around the historic stadium.

UTC hopes to install an NCAA approved track, rugby field and three flag football fields for intramural and club teams. Dr. Brown who is also over finance and operations, says the University is excited about the possibilities. "We've got a nationally recognized track team with no track at the end of the day, we're excited about doing that, we're calling it a sportsplex."

Back in 1999, the Chattanooga Lookouts moved from Engel Stadium to its current location. Owner Frank Burke said Engel Stadium slid into unsafe playing conditions and maintenance too expensive to continue. Since then, the stadium has gotten worse, but the Lookouts are ready to pitch in on the field itself, dugouts, and raise money with throwback games. "As long as I'm with the Lookouts, we will absolutely , positively take the team over to Engel and skip a game at AT& T field," Burke said. He says the Lookouts and Engel Foundation have reached an agreement where proceeds from ticket sales would go to restoring this crown jewel from decades ago.

Engel Stadium is on the National Register of Historic places. The Engel Foundation and UTC plan to keep that integrity in place.

Dr. Brown feels confident that ownership of the grounds will happen quickly. And a partnership with the Engel Foundation hopes to focus on the stadium itself. "They've got a beautiful plan for renovating the stadium, creating a baseball museum, creating inner city baseball," Brown said.

Countless memories happened inside the historic walls, including numerous all-stars such as Harmon Killebrew knocking home-runs into East 3rd street.

But restoring its glory will take a deep reach into many pockets. Burke elaborated, "That cost is steep, and I think the community as a whole has to decide how important Stadium is to the community. Unfortunately, I think this is one that's going to be a mile wide and an inch deep rather than an inch wide and a mile high."

Vice Chancellor Brown says UTC should gain ownership within 60 to 90 days. In fact, Brown just sent the transfer paperwork Tuesday night to Knoxville for further approval.

Article courtesy of News Channel 9: http://www.newschannel9.com/news/stadium-999836-utc-engel.html

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