Officials with the Chattanooga Lookouts had every reason to be optimistic for a banner 2013 season.
A successful 2012 season had ended with 243,051 fans filing through the AT&T Field turnstiles, representing Chattanooga's highest home attendance since 2004. A mild winter had shifted into a pleasant March, and the Los Angeles Dodgers provided a perk early last April by sending touted outfielder Yasiel Puig to Class AA.
Everything seemed in place for a special spring and summer, but then it started raining.
"There were 38 days where it rained in Chattanooga on our game days," Lookouts general manager Rich Mozingo said. "It was unbelievable. There was a measurable amount of rain at the Chattanooga airport on 38 of our 70 home dates.
"I can't fathom another year like that, but we'll see. Hopefully we're going to do the same things as we did last year and draw 30,000 more people to the ballpark."
Rain wiped out opening night last season and shortened the Fourth of July game to six innings. Mozingo had set a goal of 250,000 fans at Lookouts home games last year, but Mother Nature reduced the total to 220,854.
The Lookouts, who open their 2014 season by hosting the Jackson Generals, are entering their 20th spring with Frank Burke as owner. The franchise was put up for sale not long after the 2010 season.
"We've taken our time to try and do this right," Burke said. "A sale would more than likely include the stadium, but I really don't have much of an update right now. We're just looking forward to a good season."
A year after developing a picnic area down the left-field side, the Lookouts do not have any significant alterations for AT&T Field this year. There is, however, a sizable change on the horizon.
"We would love at some point to do something with our video board, which would be a huge capital expenditure," Mozingo said. "That's probably the next thing on our list, and I think that's something that would enhance the experience for the fans. The next one we would go to would probably fill up that scoreboard and the whole area out there, and it would allow us to do much more, such as replays and those sort of things.
"We're looking at different prices and that kind of stuff, but it's not happening for the 2014 season."
He noted, however, that "it is something that will have to be addressed sooner than later."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.