John Woods, a former Chattanoogan who is now the executive director of an investment banking firm in Atlanta, could be the next owner of the Chattanooga Lookouts.
"I'm a long way from closing, but I've put my bid in and it seems like they've accepted my bid," Woods said Wednesday. "We're getting ready to go to a purchase agreement. I need to get up there and get my hands around this thing. I've just got to go through a period of due diligence."
Lookouts owner Frank Burke has been trying to sell the team since the end of the 2010 season. An agreement was reached several weeks ago with businessman John Hughes of Warner-Robins, Ga., but that deal fell through earlier this month.
Hughes had no interest in relocating the Lookouts, and neither does Woods, who grew up in East Ridge and is a 1983 East Ridge High graduate.
"I would have no plans to move the team," said Woods, who has been an Atlanta resident since 1988.
Burke declined comment Wednesday when asked about the potential sale to Woods.
Hughes had reportedly agreed to buy the Lookouts for $12.5 million before that transaction was terminated. A group containing House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, Atlanta businessman Richard Mashburn and Nashville businessman David Freeman, who owns part of the Jackson Generals, has been pursuing the storied Double-A franchise as well.
Woods considered purchasing the Lookouts several months ago but said he walked away once it appeared Hughes was the buyer.
"I would be a single owner," Woods said. "They were asking $13 million, and I made a very attractive offer that they liked. I'm doing this by myself, but that's not to say that I wouldn't bring in a strategic partner."
Woods comes from a vast athletic background, with his father having played football for legendary E.B. "Red" Etter at Central High and having signed a scholarship with Georgia Tech and another legend, Bobby Dodd. His older brother, Jim, played for Etter at Baylor and went on to letter for Georgia Tech in 1975-76.
After graduating from East Ridge, Woods walked-on at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He roomed one summer with former Mocs quarterback Tim Couch but wound up transferring to Tennessee Tech.
"I was the slowest tight end who ever tried to play football at Tennessee Tech," Woods said.
His nephew, Bailey Woods, signed with Auburn as a tight end under Tommy Tuberville in 2007.
Woods is married to the former Janelle Blaylock, who was an all-Big Eight volleyball player at Oklahoma and was previously married to Mookie Blaylock, who helped lead the Sooners to the 1988 NCAA title game and played 13 seasons in the NBA. He is the stepfather to twin brothers Daron and Zack Blaylock, who are defensive backs at Kentucky, and Dominick Blaylock, who already is receiving college interest as an eighth-grader.
"We go to every Kentucky game," Woods said.
The couple also have an 8-year-old son, Ashton.
Woods is a close friend of East Hamilton High football coach Ted Gatewood, but he does have a background in baseball as well.
He purchased Honeycutt Sports from current Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt before later selling it to former Georgia Tech running back Rob Healy. The Lookouts were a client of Honeycutt Sports, and it was then when Woods developed a relationship with Burke.
Woods also is involved with Southport Capital, an asset management firm in Chattanooga that is run by Clay Parker, a former LSU punter and Lookouts pitcher who threw in the majors with Detroit, Seattle and the New York Yankees.
"Although I come from a football family, I still love the game of baseball and am very involved with it down here," Woods said.
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.