What do Hamilton County’s Mayoral Candidates Think of the New Lookouts Stadium?
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — According to the website for the new Lookouts Stadium project, construction will cost seventy-nine point five million dollars, plus seven point five million for bond issuance and capitalized interest costs.
The site says ninety-six percent of the construction will be funded by the stadium itself, but Republican Candidate for Mayor Weston Wamp is skeptical of the lack of private funding to be paid up front.
“Well, that’s all if everything goes right. If everything doesn’t go right, then the county and the city are on the hook to still make the bond payments,” said Wamp.
Wamp’s opponent, Matt Adams, is in favor of the project, and thinks that development of the area is a good use of a tax increment financing system.
“Less than four percent of all of the funding for this project is coming from public dollars, and we’re going to get a significant increase in return on investment for our schools and our community,” said Adams.
The project is expected to generate forty million dollars over the course of thirty years for the public school system.
But Weston Wamp says the benefit of this project to the school system is overstated.
“Its disingenuous to act like this stadium, an eighty million dollar expense now, is somehow a win for the public school system, which has dilapidated facilities that we could be using bonding capacity to fix, by bonding either new schools or improvement to schools,” said Wamp.
Matt Adams responded to Wamp’s concerns by emphasizing the projected economic benefits of the project, which is expected to generate enough revenue to pay down its bond in five to seven years.
“It’s short-sighted to not see the long-term benefits to our entire community, not just the city of Chattanooga, for our students and for all of our residents, for projects like this, to develop areas that are not providing any revenue to our county right now,” Adams.