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Rendering Courtesy of the City of Chattanooga / Proposed South Board stadium for the Lookouts

Finally the community is getting more of a look at the proposed new Lookouts Stadium plan that calls for using a lot of our tax dollars — nearly $60 million based on a rundown in Thursday's paper — in the name of catalyzing "development" in the South Broad area of Chattanooga.

We've said before there are better things for us taxpayers to subsidize than a third sports stadium within 3.5 miles of the city's two existing sports stadiums — AT&T field where the Lookouts now play and Finley Stadium where the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga team and the Chattanooga FC play.

Neither of those existing stadiums has spawned anything like the "over $1 billion in development" that our city and county mayors and Chamber of Commerce officials say is possible for the estimated $89 million to $94 million proposed stadium on the blighted, vacant Wheland and U.S. Pipe foundry sites.

Downtown did not grow any new business or even much tourism from Lookouts games at the current stadium on Hawk Hill. In fact, that stadium piggy-backed on the Tennessee Aquarium.

Finley Stadium hasn't grown much for us either, unless you count the pavilion across the street where we have we have an open market on perhaps half of the weekends of the year and a few breweries/restaurants.

But somehow, we're all supposed to believe a new Lookouts Stadium will be a magic bullet. Conservatively, our officials say, they expect $350 million in new development. (It was Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger in a meeting with the Times Free Press last week who raised the ante to possibly as much as $1 billion in new development.)

As a sweetener, officials extrapolated their minimum expectation of $350 million in development would bring the Hamilton County school system an additional $40 million in new revenues over the next 30 years. For the math challenged, that's $1.3 million a year. In most recent years county "growth" already has led to increases not unlike this.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga Lookouts see hundreds of uses a year for new stadium)

Should the 8-acre stadium and its adjoining 112-acre surroundings attract $500 million in development, the schools revenue would rise to $55 million, according to officials' estimates.

But the more we've heard in recent weeks about this plan, the more questions we have.

Here in a nutshell is a dollars-and-cents picture of how the stadium — shown here costing $79.1 million (less the cost of donated land) — would be paid for, according to city and county officials:

> $49.7 million would come from incremental property taxes

> $17.5 million would be from stadium lease income (paid by the Lookouts or the stadium sports authority sought for it)

> $5 million would come from state sales taxes at the stadium

> $2.9 million would be from net parking revenues

> $1.5 million would be from the city

> $1.5 million would come from the county

> $1 million would be from local sales taxes at the stadium.

Pretty much every line on this list, other than the Lookouts' lease payments and parking revenues, a total of $20.4 million, would come from some form of our tax money — to the tune of $58.7 million.

At first, we were a bit outraged the wealthy Lookouts owners and investors wanted us taxpayers to subsidize their new stadium. But the more we've learned about the deal, we've seen that our concern shouldn't be confined simply to our suggested subsidy for the ball team owners. We think that caution should be extended to the developers of the U.S. Pipe/Wheland site, as well.

The developer, Perimeter Properties, plans to donate the land — about 8 acres valued at $10 million to $14 million — for the stadium, and then will develop and/or sell the remaining property, using the stadium as the linchpin catalyst for that development growth.

While the county and city will gain extra tax revenue with each piece of property developed and/or sold, the developer with make the lion's share of whatever income is reaped.

That's OK. Making money is what developers do.

But usually taxpayers put up a bit more beef about subsidizing the profit of wheelers-dealers. Usually when we put tax money into something to bring growth, it's to bring jobs. Not help build offices and homes — unless it's for something like much-needed affordable homes, an unlikely prospect on this incredibly prime real estate between the Tennessee River, downtown and Lookout Mountain.

Our mayors make the point that Gary Chazen, who they identify as the owner of Perimeter Properties, could have developed strip centers or big box stores already but recognized the property is Chattanooga's gateway and wanted to do more for the city.

That's admirable. We, like the mayors, thank him. But its also clear that to developers, timing is everything. Property costs are skyrocketing right now. And timing with a cool catalyst like a tax-funded stadium is everything with a cherry on top.

One of the city proponents of this deal challenged our reticence to endorse it, saying "100% of nothing is nothing, you know."

He's right. Something, sooner or later, will go on this site. For the developer's and the city's sake, we truly hope it is a winner and money-maker all around.

But before our local leaders pony up our money, maybe they should ask voters for their stamp of approval.

Now there's an idea. Perhaps our leaders might like to poll us on spending our tax dollars for this stadium?

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