Updated at 10:19 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, with more information.
The Cincinnati Reds and the Chattanooga Lookouts are together again after a 21-season partnership from 1988 to 2008.
Both sides are hoping for a lengthy second marriage as well.
The Reds and the Class AA Lookouts announced a player development contract agreement during a news conference Tuesday afternoon at AT&T Field. Lookouts co-owners Jason Freier and John Woods attended the event, as did new Reds senior director of player development Eric Lee.
"This makes sense for the Reds in so many ways," Lee said. "I hopped in my car this morning from Cincinnati to come down here, and that's an exciting thing for a front-office staff. For us, it just made all the sense in the world to get in on the ground floor and really build a partnership.
"We know this is a place where our players will be comfortable and will be ready to perform their best and develop in the fashion we all hope they will."
Recent Hall of Fame inductee Trevor Hoffman, 2010 National League MVP Joey Votto and current New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone are among those who came through Chattanooga during its previous pairing with the Reds.
Player development contracts, or PDCs, can be signed for either two or four years, with the Reds and Lookouts agreeing to a two-year deal.
Cincinnati was Chattanooga's parent team when the Lookouts left Engel Stadium following the 1999 season and moved into AT&T Field, which was known then as BellSouth Park. AT&T Field will host its 20th season beginning next spring.
"I would be remiss to say that as we walk through here, there are always certain things that can improve and have no doubt will improve thanks to the leadership here," Lee said. "We project on players all the time, and we project on situations as well, and we see this situation headed in a really, really exciting direction.
"We're here because we believe this is the best place for us right now, and this is a short-term, medium-term and hopefully a long-term decision as well."
After the news conference, Lee was a guest of "Press Row" on Chattanooga's ESPN 105.1 FM, where he was asked if signing the shorter agreement was due to the uncertainty of whether a new stadium for the Lookouts can become a reality. Former Lookouts owner Frank Burke privately funded AT&T, while Freier's Hardball Capital has built successful venues in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Columbia, South Carolina, that were mostly taxpayer funded.
"We'll keep an eye on that," Lee said. "I have no doubt that there are great things ahead for the Lookouts, and we are here to help and to be a part of whatever happens. Hopefully whatever happens will make real good sense for the city, the franchise and us."
Freier stated that the relationship between Cincinnati, the second-closest major league team to Chattanooga, and the Lookouts will extend beyond the players on the field.
"We'll partner with the Reds to send some of our lucky fans here in Chattanooga up to Great American Ball Park for games and other unique Reds experiences," Freier said, "and we expect to see an increased Reds presence here in Chattanooga, from their preseason caravan to former Reds players being with us at Lookouts games. Any way you cut it, today is a big win for the Lookouts, our fans and the city of Chattanooga."
Freier and Woods were joined at the news conference by several local investors in the team. Before the news conference, Freier visited the Times Free Press and made it clear that the Lookouts are staying put no matter what transpires on the stadium front.
"We're not going anywhere, period," Freier said. "We are built and structured from an ownership level to be here in Chattanooga. There is zero ambiguity on this point."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.