Burke Looks To Sell Lookouts? - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Burke Looks To Sell Lookouts?

Posted: Updated:

By Gordon Boyd
Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)- -Baseball has been as much a part of Chattanooga as choo-choo trains. But after more than 15 years, word comes tonight that the burke family may be on the lookout to sell the minor league lookouts. 

The Chattanooga Lookouts have been looking up ever since their move to AT& T Field ten years ago; averaging 250-300,00 fans a season.

"You wouldn't think they'd want or feel the need to sell it," says Riverbend promoter Joe 'Dixie' Fuller.

"I'd love to buy a ball team! But I don't know how I would have managed it."

Fuller speaks as a baseball fan whose grandfather, the late restaurateur Abe Zarzour, lived the game at old Engel Stadium.

"He wanted to make sure everybody could play baseball, Fuller said "He thought it was a very important part of every young man's life. And he appreciated what the Burkes have done for the game."

Lookouts' owner Frank Burke delivered Zarzour's eulogy. "He (Burke) considered him part of the family," Fuller says.

Now, family concerns, notably the health of Burke's father, Daniel, may be driving a push to sell the team.

Burke has spoken to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, but has declined further comment until returning from the owner's winter meeting in Florida. The Lookouts are the AA affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Burke was set to meet with Dodgers' management Tuesday, Lookouts officials confirm.

"There are certainly people in the community, companies in the community who are affluent enough to make that purchase," says Merrill Eckstein, Executive Director of Finley Stadium.

"Who those might be, I don't know."

Eckstein managed minor league baseball teams from 1970-'83. He doubts any buyer would try to move the Lookouts out of Chattanooga, nor can he imagine that the Dodgers would seek a new AA affiliate.

"They've got wonderful facilities here, their players have been well taken care of," Fuller says.

 "It's a competitive league."

Competitive bidding, he says, to push the Lookouts' sale price to $10 million. He doubts the team would sell for less than $5 million.

Fuller would prefer the Lookouts remain in local hands.

"Whoever buys that franchise would definitely have to have his finger on the pulse of Chattanooga," he says.

Eckstein believes that the 'pulse' would include a grasp of what has made the Lookouts' franchise successful; dollar- and entertainment-value.

"I can't see them raising ticket prices," he says. "New ownership would figure out yeah; we can be the most economical family entertainment in town, let's keep it that way."

Powered by Frankly