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BellSouth Park opened in 2000. / Contributed photo

While today the Chattanooga Lookouts fight for future seasons, in 1930 and 2000 the minor league team celebrated the openings of two new stadiums in the city.

The team has been in the Chattanooga area since the 1880s. Games were initially played on Andrews Field, but owner Joe Engel, who would work with the organization for 34 years, had bigger plans.

He proposed an idea to build Engel Stadium at the site of the Andrews Field, an establishment that would hold thousands of spectators.

When they opened that first day on April 15, 1930, at their new location, the Chattanooga Lookouts played the Atlanta Crackers. They made the front page of the Chattanooga Daily Times after winning 6-5.

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Engel Stadium opened in 1930. / Contributed photo

The headlines in the paper on the next day called the crowds "record-breaking," citing an attendance of around 16,000 people.

But decades later when, according to engelfoundation.com, maintenance costs at Engel got too high, the Lookouts began construction of a new field.

BellSouth Park, now known as AT&T Field, opened on April 10, 2000.

The team would yet again win in their stadium opener, beating out the Birmingham Barons 5-4.

In the next day's issue of the Times Free Press, Mark Wiedmer called the Lookouts "The Best Deal in Town."

But almost 20 years after that opening day, Major League Baseball is considering cutting ties with 42 minor league teams, including the Chattanooga Lookouts.

In November, The New York Times reported that the 2020 season may be the last for the Lookouts and other teams.

Lookouts President Rich Mozingo has said the team is on the list because of its aging facilities and has asked for the support of the community to keep professional baseball in Chattanooga, although he is still optimistic for the seasons to come.

While the future may be uncertain, the past of the Lookouts in Chattanooga from stadium to stadium and with hundreds of players, visitors and games has been well-documented throughout the pages of the local Chattanooga papers.

Contact Tierra Hayes at tierrahayes@southern.edu.

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