Historic Engel Stadium was home to the Chattanooga Lookouts from April 15, 1930, to September 10, 1999. From Satchel Paige to Willie Mays, hundreds of baseball’s best play played in the Scenic City’s friendly confines.
Throughout its existence, Engel also hosted little league championships from around the Tennessee Valley.
"At the end of the day we'd play our little championship series there,” UTC Executive Vice Chancellor, Dr. Richard Brown said. “We thought the place was so special because of the greats that played there, we'd always pick up some of the dirt and put it in our pocket. We thought that might help you hit a curveball...never helped me.”
Now Dr. Brown is part of a strategy team from UTC, that is in charge of evolving Engel Stadium and the surrounding area into the future. The university purchased the 28 acres of land and the stadium fourteen years ago. The renovations to the area begin this fall.
"The first phase of what we're doing is putting almost 8 million dollars into the property to build a student intramural complex,” said Brown. “You will see probably seven or eight athletic fields there. Jog and track that will be available for public use, sand volleyball courts, some nice parking because the university is always looking for parking."
All of these changes will be paid for by UTC student recreation fees. As for the stadium itself, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will not be demolished according to university officials.
"We'd always like to see some sort of sports, baseball, softball played there,” said Brown. “But we're gonna talk to the community and kinda pick their brains about what's appropriate."
There are many ideas in place at this time. Talks about a music venue have taken place. But officials also hinted that maintaining the stadium is important because movie studios have expressed interest in shooting feature films at Engel, like 42 which was shot on location there in 2012.
"We're hoping that whatever we do with adaptive reuse will animate the place,” said Brown. “Where students and the community will want to come and celebrate the history, all of the history of the stadium, but to be able to utilize it and really just get a feel for something that was really special for Chattanooga."