Courter: Charlie Daniels kicks off new era for Engel

Courter: Charlie Daniels kicks off new era for Engel

March 21st, 2013 by Barry Courter in Life Entertainment

After a summer of activity thanks to the filming of the Hollywood feature "42," Engel Stadium has been quiet. That will change on May 2 when the historic baseball stadium hosts a Charlie Daniels concert. The American Dream concert will benefit the UTC College of Business Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, which gives veterans the tools they need to start a business. Tickets will be $20.

The concert and other events, including a golf tournament on May 2 to benefit Tennessee Valley veterans, are timed to coincide with Chattanooga's Armed Forces Day Parade.

In the last three months, $80,000 has been raised for improvements to the facility, according to Janna Jahn, director of the Engel Stadium Foundation. She said a couple of weeks ago that before baseball can return there, the outfield needs to be leveled as it's unplayable at the moment. The infield was put back the way it was by the crew, who altered the stadium for the movie's filming.

If you remember, some of the plumbing and electricity was fixed as part of the movie project, and the roof was also repaired. Those were all major obstacles, and getting them done was a big hurdle to overcome before any future events could be considered.

Booking Daniels for this particular fundraising event was no coincidence. Gen. B.B. Bell, who graduated from UTC, has a decade-old relationship with Daniels that started when the singer contacted Bell about performing for American troops fighting in Iraq.

Daniels wanted to sing for the troops as close to the fighting as possible and did just that.

Jahn has said that her group is looking at any and all options for keeping Engel active.

Old-timers will recall that Engel has hosted concerts before. The Commodores, Rick Springfield and The Beach Boys all played there as part of the first Riverbend in 1982. Little Feat also has played Engel, and there was, of course, the infamous Jimmy Buffett show.

I say infamous, because the outfield, where the stage and chairs were, became a mud pit, and Buffet supposedly has sworn off ever playing in Chattanooga again since that show. No one I've talked to seems to know exactly what happened, but he hasn't been back.

Friends of the Festival is involved in producing the concert as well. Tickets go on sale April 1 at area Kangaroo locations.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.