Architect hired to design Chattanooga Lookouts stadium

Staff file photo by Olivia Ross  / The U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry site slated to hold the new Chattanooga Lookouts stadium is seen from Point Park on Lookout Mountain in July 2022.
Staff file photo by Olivia Ross / The U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry site slated to hold the new Chattanooga Lookouts stadium is seen from Point Park on Lookout Mountain in July 2022.

A Chattanooga firm was picked Thursday as the executive architect for the proposed new South Broad District stadium, and an official with the company said plans are to incorporate the site's rich foundry past.

"The existing buildings will be incorporated into the project so that it truly is a Chattanooga stadium," said Ray Boaz, a partner with the firm DH&W.

The company will be paid $4.7 million, subject to available funding, according to an amended resolution passed by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Sports Authority. Plans are to work with locally based Franklin Architects as well, Boaz said at Thursday's meeting.

"We've got a long history of working collaboratively with them," he said.

Boaz said officials are targeting a timeline to have the stadium ready for the Chattanooga Lookouts Minor League Baseball season in April 2025.

Also at the meeting, former Chattanooga Chief Financial Officer Daisy Madison and local insurance agent Brett Smalley were named to the Sports Authority. They replace John Shearburn, the managing director of private equity firm Warburg Pincus, and Mitch Patel, chief executive of Chattanooga-based hotel developer Vision Hospitality Group. They resigned from the panel in 2022.

Dennis Malone, Chattanooga's assistant city engineer, told the stadium board in May that requests for qualifications were sent to a list of architectural firms doing business locally about the planned stadium that will replace AT&T Field near the riverfront.

He said there will be a six-month design period for the multiuse facility that's expected to anchor the 120-acre stadium site where West 26th and West 28th streets intersect the U.S. Pipe/Wheland Foundry parcel off Broad Street.

Already, a pair of architectural consultants, one specializing in designing ballparks and entertainment venues and another with expertise in reusing historic buildings, are joining the stadium project, said Jason Freier, the Lookouts managing owner.

"It's a ballpark specialist and an adaptive reuse specialist. Those have been pre-selected to be part of the team," he said.

Mike Sabatini of suburban Kansas City, who was the lead architect for a ballpark built in 2016 in Columbia, South Carolina — where Freier operates another minor league club — has come on board the Chattanooga project, the Lookouts owner said in an interview.

Freier said Sabatini has more than 30 years of experience at national architecture firms designing ballparks and venues.

Also, S9 Architecture in New York City has expertise in reusing historic buildings, Freier said, such as those on the old 120-acre foundry site where the planned stadium.

DH&W will work with those two firms as they design "what's truly going to become a new gateway into Chattanooga," Boaz said.

DH&W in the past designed Finley Stadium in the Southside, where the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga plays its home football games, Boaz said.

The local firm will carry out a significant majority of the work designing the ballpark that's slated to hold between 5,000 and 6,000 permanent seats, Freier said.

But, he said, his experience and that of Jim Irwin, president of Atlanta-based New City Properties and the master developer of the foundry tract, enabled them to bring the consulting architects to the project.

Earlier this year, the stadium's developers picked the specific location for the planned new ballpark to maximize the reuse of the site's historic buildings in the design.

"They will make it different than any other minor league stadium," Irwin said in April.

Officials have said the Sports Authority, which was created by the county and city, would issue up to $79.5 million in bonds to fund construction of the new stadium. But officials said recently that rising inflation is a concern, and it's uncertain when the panel will go out to the bond market.

Irwin said a more firm cost of the stadium will be known after the design process is started and a construction manager is hired later this year.

In 2022, the city and county approved creation of a 470-acre special tax district around the planned stadium. Most of the new property tax revenue from the district along with Lookouts' lease payments, sales taxes, parking revenues and $1.4 million apiece from the city and county will pay debt service on 30-year bonds for the project, officials said.

Officials have said that with proposed and new investment around the stadium, upwards of $1 billion or more in development could go in the area.

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318.

Upcoming Events