Stadium deal gets approved by Chattanooga City Council

Between city & county, the combined votes have been 17-1 in favor

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Tuesday night was the Chattanooga City Council’s turn to consider the South Broad Revitalization plan.

The vote was unanimous in favor of it.

The District will include housing & retail plus a new minor league baseball stadium along the old industrial plant property on the river.

The Mayor’s office has touted the plan as generating tens of millions of dollars for schools, roads and infrastructure in the city.

And backers call it a new front door for the city, replacing the old brownfields along I 24.

The engine for the district is the new stadium.

The plan is that it will keep the Lookouts in Chattanooga for years to come and also draw both locals and visitors to a new entertainment district.

“Today will mark the beginning of a new era of investment and inclusive growth in Chattanooga, in which we fundamentally shift our trajectory, upwards and forwards,” said Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly.

But why does the city need a new minor league baseball stadium.

In a statement tonight, the mayor’s office was blunt.

“The Lookouts’ current home at AT&T Field was privately built, and also poorly built. It faces into the sun, which can’t be fixed, and was found by Major League Baseball to have more than 140 different compliance deficiencies that would have caused the league to pull the franchise had the city and county not acted. The loss of the Lookouts would not only have terminated one of baseball’s historic franchises, but would also have cost the community $30 million in economic impact that the Lookouts provide.”

The city and county have approved how they will pay for all of this.

The up-front investment is just $1.4 million a piece, paid from hotel/motel taxes paid by tourists.

But they commit to a tax increment financing (TIF) deal, basically committing taxes generated by the operators to pay off the debt of construction.

If the project is a total bust, the city and county would be stuck with the bill.

However, backers say similar projects in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Columbia, South Carolina have generated a combined $1.6 billion.

The land has been donated.

“But this is about more than just increasing our tax base. This is about becoming the best city in the country to live, work and play. This is about new housing, new commercial space for our small businesses, new living-wage jobs, and new public green spaces and trails. This is about connecting our neighborhoods, bringing us one step closer to One Chattanooga,” said Kelly following the vote.

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