On Aug. 25, 2019, the Chattanooga Lookouts swept the Montgomery Biscuits at AT&T Field.
Next Tuesday night, the Lookouts will play their first home game in 617 days, the largest such gap between contests since professional baseball returned to the city in 1976. The outbreak of the coronavirus shelved all of minor league baseball in 2020, and this upcoming season features plenty of changes at the 6,340-seat facility, as the Lookouts and all minor league franchises are now taking their orders from Major League Baseball.
For starters, the Lookouts are only offering tickets for the first 18 home games — or the first three six-game homestands — and next Tuesday's clash against the Rocket City Trash Pandas already has sold out under the socially distanced guidelines.
"We're going to be south of 50% and will probably be closer to 40-to-44% for the first 18 games," Lookouts president Rich Mozingo said. "We knew coming out of the gate that rules and regulations are going to have to be followed, but we think they're going to change, which is why we've held off on putting the next round of tickets on sale until we get more directives from Major League Baseball.
"I truly think that number will go up pretty substantially for the second 18 games, but we knew we were going to be south of 3,000 going into it."
The Lookouts in recent weeks announced a digital ticketing initiative and that AT&T Field will be cashless, with the exception that cash can be used to purchase a Lookouts gift card, which then could go toward concessions or items from the team store.
With the start of Chattanooga's much-awaited season nearing the 11th hour, here are some answers from Mozingo to any lingering questions:
The Hamilton County mask mandate is scheduled to expire later this week. Does that mean no masks at Lookouts games?
"That's not going to make any difference for the Lookouts. Major League Baseball is requiring masks inside the ballpark, and that is the stance we will take."
What about when fans reach their seats? Can they take them off then?
"We're asking them to wear their masks when they're in their seats, and that's a tough one. While we're going to make sure people have masks coming in, I don't think you're going to see a lot of our people running around, knocking heads and making sure people have their masks on, but we are going to ask people to wear their masks when they're inside the ballpark."
Will vendors be moving through the crowds?
"Next Tuesday, there will not be vendors in the stands. No one is going to be walking through and selling cokes and beers. We're going to figure out how to do that more efficiently from stand-alone stands on that concourse area.
"Again, I say that fully believing that things will change for us throughout the summer. Most of these things that we are doing have been regulated through Major League Baseball."
If there are no national anthems allowed out on the field this season like you've said, then where will they be?
"The Chattanooga Boys Choir will sing the national anthem next Tuesday, and it will be taped. Live national anthems will probably happen at a taped-off area on the beer garden."
What if there are those of us entering the front gates who struggle with the digital ticketing on our phones?
"We will have enough 21- and 24-year-olds around at the gates to help you. We will take care of it."
Will Wanda Goins be handing out programs again this year?
"We will have digital programs this year that will allow fans to have updated stats and let them know what's going on with each and every game. Wanda will be there letting you scan the QR code that will take you straight to our program and get it right on your phone. We couldn't open up without Wanda."
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.