The Chattanooga Lookouts are making their 20th season at AT&T Field a memorable one.
Entering Saturday night's game against the visiting Jackson Generals, the Lookouts were averaging a robust 3,720 fans per game. Chattanooga hasn't finished a season with such an average since 2002, when it last led the 10-member Southern League with an average of 4,128.
"We've had a really good year," Lookouts president and general manager Rich Mozingo said. "During our 10-game homestand to open the second half, we had six crowds of over 4,000. We've had six or seven over 5,000 this year. We've had an unbelievable year this year.
"We've had three rainouts, but those were on dates that weren't killers for us."
An announced crowd of 2,372 attended Chattanooga's 11-4 loss to Jackson on Saturday. The Generals' Ramon Hernandez hit a two-run home run in the first inning, and Jazz Chisolm hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning and a three-run homer in the ninth as the Lookouts dropped to 8-9.
The Lookouts typically draw smaller crowds after the Fourth of July, when a lack of shade during the early innings at the 6,340-seat facility becomes evident, but Saturday was the 13th home game of the second half with just 22 remaining. Chattanooga opened this half with a 10-game homestand against Birmingham and Tennessee before playing four road games and coming home for six more.
"We were front-loaded in this second half, and that helps," Mozingo said. "It absolutely helps us. We've always done better in the first half than in the second half, but so far this second half has been amazing."
Should Chattanooga average more than 3,500 fans per game, it would mark just the third such accomplishment in the last 15 years. The Lookouts averaged 3,522 in 2012 and 3,516 in 2014.
The Lookouts had a sold-out crowd this past Thursday to honor America's birthday and should have another on the popular "Used Car Night," which is set for Aug. 10. What is different so far about this summer is that AT&T Field is providing more than just that traditional 1-2 punch.
"We've put some really good events in the second half," Mozingo said. "We used to load everything in the first half knowing that people would come out, but if we give people quality entertainment and a reason to come to the ballpark, they will come, so we have started to put more things in the second half of the year that we think can draw people.
"We moved 'Superhero Night' into the second half, and it held its own."
Mozingo said that traditional giveaway nights such as mini-bats and balls don't "move the needle" the way they once did, so they are being replaced by events more relevant to the here and now. Chattanooga recently held a "Peppa Pig Night" to reflect the British preschool animated series on television.
"We have just really focused these last four or five years on fan enjoyment, entertainment and engagement," Mozingo said. "The new video board helps a ton, and our new concession items help a bunch, too."
The Lookouts and the Generals play again at 2:15 p.m. Sunday.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.