Chattanooga Now City Beat: Opera one more way to keep Engel around

Chattanooga Now City Beat: Opera one more way to keep Engel around

April 24th, 2014 by Barry Courter in Chattanooga Now - Art

At first blush, the idea of presenting an opera inside Historic Engel Stadium might seem strange. But the folks with Artisti Affamati are producing "The Mighty Casey," which is based on the Ernest Thayer poem "Casey at the Bat," which has the memorable final line "But there is no joy in Mudville -- mighty Casey has struck out."

I've said for years that I would happily sit inside Engel and watch it rain. It's just a cool place, and apparently a lot of other people think so, too. Presenting a show like this opera is part of the mission that the folks at the Engel Foundation have in mind to protect and preserve the 84-year-old treasure.

You'll remember that a good bit of repairs were done thanks to the folks who were here to shoot "42," the Jackie Robinson biopic in 2012. The roof was repaired and made safe, some rewiring and plumbing was done and the outfield wall in right field was repainted.

The left-field wall was torn down -- actually it fell down and then the rest was torn down -- but has since been replaced with a new cinder-block version. The outfield was pretty torn up during filming and has not been repaired well enough to host actual baseball games. According to Engel Foundation executive director Janna Jahn, fundraising and the weather have caused the delay, but once the weather cooperates, it will be fixed.

In addition to the opera being there tonight and Saturday, Engel will host a concert May 2 featuring "the 4,000-year-old funk" of The Mummies. The show is a fundraiser for both the stadium and the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program hosted at UTC. The program is an intensive business training course for vets.

On June 15, four teams from the Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball will play a doubleheader. They play under 1864 rules, which means no gloves and no balls and strikes, so that could be fun to watch.

Ideally, in my opinion, Jahn and her group can find a way to host all kinds of events on the field. Whether it's youth or high school games or whatever, it's a great place to play, and everyone who enters the place is immediately struck by the sense of history that it holds.

Until then, I'm all for any excuse to get inside and walk around, and if it helps raise awareness and money to keep it up, all the better.

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.