The days of the Chattanooga Lookouts having to turn fans away with relative frequency are coming to an end.
Chattanooga will begin its third homestand of the season Tuesday night when the Pensacola Blue Wahoos visit AT&T Field, and it's also the final homestand with the 40% capacity guideline that was implemented before the start of the season. When the Lookouts return to town at the end of the month, capacity will be at 70%, which will take crowds from roughly 2,500 to around 4,500.
"We've had to turn away a whole lot more than we've typically had to do, and that's tough," Lookouts president Rich Mozingo said Monday. "What's been interesting is the amount of people who are buying their tickets earlier and making sure they get a ticket to the game. We've sold out every game we've had, which has been amazing, and the flow of the games, the crowds and the concessions have been extremely good so far.
"This Friday and Saturday sure look like they're going to sell out, and I would assume Thursday gets there, too. We're a little slower this week than we were the first two, but if we have a regular walk-up, we could sell out all of these as well. It is very weather dependent, but people know that if they get rained out of a game, we'll get them into another one."
Highlighting this week's schedule is a Thirsty Thursday, Friday fireworks and Saturday's giveaway of a used car.
The Lookouts are off to a solid 17-12 start behind the 1-2 pitching punch of Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene, who also rank 1-2 in terms of prospects within the Cincinnati Reds organization.
Lodolo made five starts in May, compiling a 2-0 record and a 1.01 earned run average and being recognized as the Double-A South pitcher of the month. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound left-hander out of Texas Christian University is scheduled to start Saturday night's game.
Greene has a 4-0 record and a 2.31 ERA and is scheduled to start Friday night.
This will be the first full series the Lookouts have played this season without second baseman Alejo Lopez, who was promoted last Wednesday to Triple-A Louisville. Lopez was leading the Double-A South with a .362 batting average.
Once this series ends Sunday afternoon, Mozingo will turn toward staffing plans for larger crowds, which will be easier said than done.
"Our biggest issue right now is finding people to work," Mozingo said, "and I'm echoing the sounds and the opinions of what seems like everyone in the Chattanooga area and maybe everyone in the southeast right now. It's been difficult, but we continue to look for people and continue to hire. Hopefully we'll get the people necessary to staff a crowd of 4,500.
"We're not a 40-hour-a-week job. We're a part-time job, and it's in the evenings, so most of the people we're still looking for are viable applicants out there."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.