UTC Takes Ownership of Engel Stadium

September 1, 2011
by B.B. Branton

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga vice chancellor for finance and operations Dr. Richard Brown Jr. is happy and Janna Jahn of the Engel Foundation is thrilled and relieved.

Confirmation from the state of Tennessee stating that UTC has sole ownership of Engel Stadium and surrounding property came last week.

”To finally have ownership of Engel Stadium and its surrounding property is great for the university and we can now move forward in developing a master plan for the entire sportsplex at that site,” said Dr. Brown.

The long term plan for the “sportsplex” includes an NCAA standard track and soccer facility, a tennis complex and space for intramural sports.

“When I received the call from Richard earlier this week that UTC had ownership of Engel Stadium I had goose bumps and my heart started racing knowing that this was a big step in fulfilling a dream for the revitalization of the stadium,” said Jahn, the executive director of the Engel Foundation.

A dream of not only the Engel Foundation, but of many others in this community and beyond to see a grand ballpark brought back to life and once again become a viable part of Chattanooga history.

The city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County had been joint property owners of the stadium and grounds purchased from the Clark Griffith Estate in the early 1960s for $250,000. Griffith was the owner of the old Washington Senators that served as the parent club for the Lookouts for three decades.

The immediate goals for Dr. Brown and UTC is to clean up the property, make some repairs, including the hole in the outfield wall, and have a risk management team make an assessment of the entire structure.

UTC will also meet with the directors of the Engel Foundation to form a working agreement and a plan between the two entities.

Built by former club general manager Joe Engel in 1929 and first opened for business in 1930, baseball at Engel Stadium was a summer staple of entertainment for area fans through the mid-1960s and then from 1976 to 1999 after which Lookouts owner Frank Burke moved the team to its current home of AT&T Field in 2000.

The Lookouts won five of its seven pennants while playing at Engel; two before World War II (1932, 1939) and three in the modern era (1952, 1961, 1988). Other pennant-winning years were 1892 and 1909.

Tennessee Temple University, Covenant College, Notre Dame and Howard High Schools were among the most recent tenants until the gates were closed earlier this year.

"Engel Stadium presents a wonderful opportunity for us to take an aging and irreplaceable historic structure and turn it into a thriving hot spot for baseball as well as other things," Jahn stated.

"This is something Chattanooga knows how to do well. The Foundation looks forward to working with the University and the entire community to bring Engel back to life."

How appropriate that as the Chattanooga Lookouts battle for the Southern League North Division title in the final weekend of the 2011 regular season – a five game series at AT&T Field with Montgomery starts tonight – the hard work by many in the Chattanooga area of reviving the Lookouts’ old home – home to minor league baseball for seven decades and for a time Knothole League and college baseball – is also paying dividends.

Article courtesy of Chattanoogan.com: http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_208193.asp

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