Tennessee senator sees no “remediation” to proposed stadium property
Senator says state legislature will not give Chattanooga additional funding for new Lookouts ballpark
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) –Tennessee Senator Todd Gardenhire knows how beloved the Lookouts are to Chattanoogans.
But when it comes to getting a new stadium built for the club, he wants to see local government have as much passion for the team as its fans do.
Gardenhire says he’s seen no progress on the Wheland Foundry/U.S. Pipe site — the proposed future home for the Chattanooga Lookouts.
The senator says the property owners proposed the state build an exit off I-24 onto Broad Street prior to beginning development.
He says $35 million was re-directed to do so, but he’s still seen no “remediation” or financial commitment to the property.
“The city of Chattanooga and the Hamilton County Government [have] not put up any money, nor have they even announced that they’re going to put up any money, nor is there any plans to put up any money that nobody knows about.”
Gardenhire says East Ridge, Knoxville and Nashville have all received stadium-related funding, but only because they’ve already “put up or pledged” several millions of dollars of their own in their deals with the state.
He says Chattanooga is “putting up zero.”
“Why should they come to us and ask us for more money when we’ve already put $35 million down there to help develop that property, given them special tax breaks, given them the ability to amortize the loans?” Gardenhire said. “We in the legislature say that’s enough — we want to see what you’re going to do.”
News 12 Now reached out to the city of Chattanooga for a comment on the property.
Director of Special Projects Ellis Smith responded by saying, quote, “We continue to monitor several economic development priorities under consideration by our delegation.”
Gardenhire believes the site will be developed and the Lookouts will gain a new ballpark.
But in terms of funding the project, representing state legislation, he’s made the terms clear.
“No pun intended, it’s time for them to step up to the plate and swing for the fence, and not come to us and ask them to give them a walk,” Gardenhire said. “We’re on the highway playing chicken with each other and whoever blinks first. We’re not blinking.”
Gardenhire did give the Lookouts credit, however, saying he’s been told that the club will reportedly “put up five years’ worth of lease ahead of time” to help get the project started.