Chattanooga Lookouts: A baseball town no fan should skip

The beautiful AT&T Field in downtown Chattanooga. RFTHT highly recommends a trip to see the Lookouts!

For years, I’ve heard nothing but praise from baseball fans about what the Chattanooga Lookouts offer, so as I was pulling up the stadium on a hill near the Tennessee River, my hopes were high. The payoff was great (even with an hour plus rain delay). The Lookouts are a class act franchise, reasonably priced, and provide fantastic entertainment for fans young and old. The Lookouts came out strong scoring 7 unanswered runs before the third inning rain delay. Some stellar pitching held the Huntsville Stars scoreless until the eighth. However, the home team still pulled out a victory and we were able to root on the home team to a big victory!

Now let’s get into the nitty gritty and find out whether or not a visit to Chattanooga is worth it!

The Stadium/Surrounding Area

AT&T Field, home of the Lookouts was built in 1999 and the home team officially took the field in April 2000. Prior to the construction of AT&T, the Lookouts played at the historical Engel Stadium which opened in 1930. The Lookouts as a franchise have operated in Chattanooga since 1885. The new park is perfectly located on a hill along the Tennessee River. It’s within walking distance to the very vibrant downtown district that’s home to the Tennessee Aquarium, an abundance of restaurants, parks along the river, and a host of other activities for people of all ages. I haven’t been to downtown Chattanooga since I was a kid, and to see the development that’s taken place over the last 15 years is astounding. The stadium is no different.

The park holds just over 6,300 fans, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Tickets were about as reasonable as you could ask for Minor League Baseball as a front row ticket will set you back a mere $9, a great box seat will cost you $6, and a “nosebleed” general admission will only set you back $5. I put nosebleed in quotes, because let’s face it, a general admission ticket in Chattanooga is probably a $50 ticket at most MLB games.

Concessions were plenty and relatively inexpensive. If you didn’t stop by one of the many restaurants in downtown, there’s plenty to eat (and drink) at a Lookouts game. They shockingly had decent beer, including a few from craft brewery New Belgium as well as a few brews from Nashville-based Big River Brewing. Even more impressive was the cost. A large beer, and I mean large, will set you back a whopping $4.75. Contrast that with the craft beer garden at Turner Field where a 12 oz. bottle of Sweetwater will cost nearly $7.

A great view of AT&T Field from the street. Built in 1999, it’s the home of very popular Lookouts

Just as popular as the inexpensive beer options, was the Lookouts’ team store. Fans flocked there during the rain delay, and happily plunked down their money for hats, t-shirts, pennants, foam fingers, and just about anything they could get their hands on that features the fantastic Lookouts logo. Keeping with tradition, I picked up an on-field cap. Fans from near and far really love their Lookouts and the well-stocked team store lets them show off their love.

All in all, AT&T Field gets a resounding A. The park is in a great location and is easy to access. Tickets are reasonably priced, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Combine that with reasonable concession prices, friendly staff, a Lookouts game at AT&T Field is a pleasant experience to say the least! It’s the fourth Southern League stadium I’ve visited, and while it doesn’t have the historical and “cool” aesthetic of Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, it’s certainly one of the better MiLB parks I’ve been to in my life.

The area surrounding AT&T Park is well developed, and there is so much to do you could easily spend a weekend in Chattanooga taking in all the fun. Between the aquarium, museums, and short rides (provided by free electric shuttles) to other tourist attractions, it’s a great area. I haven’t visited Chattanooga in quite some time, and the development that’s taken place is impressive to say the least. I’ll have to do some digging, but I’m interested what kind of impact the construction of AT&T Field had on the economic development of downtown. The aquarium has seen a massive expansion in recent years, and many old buildings (just like in Montgomery) are being redeveloped into trendy shops and restaurants that made our visit all the more enjoyable. (I feel a full report on the economic development of areas

Looking for more to do in Chattanooga? The world-class Tennessee Aquarium is less than a 5 minute walk from AT&T Field.

surrounding Southern League teams coming on…)

The Game

The last MiLB game RFTHT visited was the class A Rome Braves and boy is it an improvement jumping up to AA. The defense is markedly better and the pitching is leaps and bounds better than what we saw in Rome. The North Division of the Southern League is a pretty tight race as we move into late May. While the Jackson Generals have a solid lead in the division of 5.5 games, there’s just a 2.5 game difference between Huntsville and Chattanooga with the Stars staking a claim to second place in the division. Yesterday however, it was all about the home team Lookouts. In the bottom of the first, right fielder Blake Smith got the Lookouts on the board big time with a three run blast to right field and Chattanooga never looked back. The Lookouts played small ball in the second inning and were able to plate another four runs and that’s all they needed.

However, in the top of the third inning, mother nature had plans other than a easy win for the Lookouts. As we were driving into Chattanooga, there were some very threatening clouds to the northeast. Having been rained out so many times last year, I felt a twinge of pain.

Play resumes after a 1 hr. and 8 min. rain delay.

“Here we go again,” I thought.

The skies darkened quickly in the third, and thunder started rumbling in the distance. The home plate umpire  was made aware of the impending storm, but let play continue. That last approximately 60 seconds.

Waiting out the rain delay in Chattanooga. Even with an hour plus delay, it was still a great time.

A massive cloud-to-ground lightning bolt struck just beyond the centerfield wall and that’s all the umps needed to see. Both teams quickly headed into their respective dugouts and the fans went running for shelter as the storm started pounding downtown Chattanooga and AT&T Field. Thankfully, the grounds crew worked their magic, braved the frequent lightning, and got the tarp down in time to keep the infield from becoming unplayable.

The storm lasted about 45 minutes, and in the mean time we wandered around the stadium and checked out the various concession stands, the team offices, and just about everywhere we could to help pass the time. As the rain stopped and the sky lightened, we were very happy to see the grounds crew emerge and take the tarp off the field.

It was almost time to play ball…again.

The game resumed, and the until the eighth, Chattanooga’s pitchers kept the Stars in check. Huntsville put up 3 runs in the eighth as Chattanooga pitcher Blake Johnson struggled with his control. However, nothing could hold back the Lookouts from taking three of four in the series against Huntsville bringing them to a mere 2 games under .500 and tightening the race in the North Division of the Southern League.

The final score was 7-3 good guys and despite the rain delay, it was a great game.

Final Thoughts & Overall Experience 

Chattanooga lived up to its reputation as a must-see for baseball fans, and I highly recommend the trip to anyone wanting to see some great AA action. This was the third game (and fourth stadium) I’ve attended from the Southern League, and they continue to impress me as a benchmark for MiLB and the game of baseball. The fans were friendly, the park was welcoming, and downtown Chattanooga is a great place to spend a day (or even a weekend). Between the Lookouts, a world-class aquarium, Lookout Mountain, and more than enough restaurants, shops, and other activities to keep you busy, it’s well worth the trip.

The only thing that creates an issue (and this is for baseball just about anywhere in the south during the summer) is the rain. This was the first time we had rain during our 2012 adventures, but thoughts of the 2011 disaster are still fresh. Make sure you have a backup plan just in case a game gets rained out and stay up beat. If there is a rain delay, wandering around the stadium is a great way to get a better feel of the home team’s park. We were fortunate that the grounds crew acted quickly, and that no major storms were lining up behind the one that plowed into us during the third inning.

Overall, it’s very easy to be a Chattanooga Lookouts fan. The fan base is passionate, loves their local club, and is always willing to root on their home team. I immediately felt welcome, and know that whenever I go back, I can put on my Lookouts cap and proudly root on Chattanooga’s home team!

Go Lookouts!

Go Lookouts!

Chattanooga Lookouts final gradeA- 

What’s next?

On Thursday, I’ll be trekking up to Cincinnati to check out my home team, the Atlanta Braves, take on the Cincinnati Reds in the final game of a four games series. Rather than being a Reds fan, I’ll report on what it’s like to root for the away team, rather than being a home town fan. My journey continues on Sunday as I’ll visit the Louisville Slugger Museum (haven’t been there since I was 10) and check out the Reds’ AAA club, the Louisville Bats as they battle the Indianpolis Indians at Louisville Slugger Field.

Also, (and I’ll go into this more later) RFTHT has partnered with a brand new sports blog called LastRoundDraftPicks. It’s run by a group of really cool guys from the D.C./Philly area who found RFTHT and loved what we’re doing! Their blog is filled with great analysis on all sports, is fun to read, and we’re proud to call them our partners. Check ’em out!

Thanks for reading and we’ll be at plenty more ball games coming up throughout the summer!

Lastly, for more pictures please check us out on Facebook and if you’re looking for regular updates during games, follow us on Twitter!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. […] games, stopping by towns as small as Rome, Georgia and larger ones like Birmingham, Alabama, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Cincinnati would be my first adventure in a big city and first (outside of Atlanta) to […]

    Reply

  2. […] area and requires some walking or driving from the park. Unlike say, Chattanooga which has done a fabulous job developing the blocks immediately around AT&T Field, Louisville’s big nightlife scene is a bit of a […]

    Reply

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