Chattanooga Lookouts-Cincinnati Reds relationship off to good start amid limitations

Chattanooga Lookouts-Cincinnati Reds relationship off to good start amid limitations

July 10th, 2019 by David Paschall in Sports - Professional

Nick Krall

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

This is the 22nd summer in which the Chattanooga Lookouts have competed as the Class AA affiliates of the Cincinnati Reds.

It's also the first such year since 2008, when Chattanooga and Cincinnati concluded a 21-season run that began in 1988. The Lookouts then partnered with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the next six years and with the Minnesota Twins for the past four before reuniting with a franchise that played its first game in 1869 and in the 1970s produced the "Big Red Machine" that won consecutive World Series titles.

"It's been great so far," Cincinnati Reds general manager Nick Krall said. "We were really happy to get back into Chattanooga. It's a great city and a great place to play, and we have a great organization and a great front office to work with.

"It was a natural fit for us to come back here."

Lookouts president and general manager Rich Mozingo worked with Reds officials during their previous stint in Chattanooga and also is thrilled the two are back together. Chattanooga and Cincinnati are operating under a two-year player development contract that runs through the 2020 season.

"I think it's been really good," Mozingo said. "The Reds have been very attentive. They listen to what we talk about, and we listen to what they talk about. It's been much more of a partnership with a give and take."

Cincinnati was Chattanooga's parent team when the Lookouts moved from historic Engel Stadium to AT&T Field (then known as BellSouth Park) before the 2000 season. The Reds and Baltimore Orioles christened the new stadium that spring with an exhibition game that followed ceremonial first pitches by George and Barbara Bush.

Now AT&T Stadium is in its 20th season and among the four oldest facilities in the Southern League.

"The thing we struggle with is when the Reds have four rovers in town and a video guy in town, so there are five extra guys in our clubhouse," Mozingo said. "Our clubhouse is small by today's standards.That's one of the reasons the Twins wanted to go a different place. There are things we can't fix at our ballpark, because there is literally no physical space.

"If the Reds can get by that and work with that, then I think we're going to be fine."

A long-term deal between Cincinnati and Chattanooga certainly would be enhanced if Lookouts co-owners Jason Freier and John Woods were successful in their efforts to land a new ballpark that would be largely funded by taxpayers and would cost in excess of $30 million. AT&T Field was privately funded and built for $11.2 million.

Mozingo said there have been great discussions with a developer for the proposed stadium at the old Wheland Foundry site adjacent to Interstate 24 opposite Moccasin Bend, describing these next few weeks and months as "a sit-and-wait process." The Reds will no doubt keep a pulse on the situation.

"I think everybody would love to have a new one, because new parks are awesome," Krall said, "but we're here now, and this is what we have. The Lookouts are doing a great job with the existing facility, and this is a great town. I really love it here."

Said Mozingo: "I think we've done a ton for the Cincinnati Reds and have met every request to this point. We are more than holding up our end of it, and we're thrilled with them. I think if we had to re-up tomorrow, it would be a slam dunk."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.