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Official Review by Franklin Crittenden, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
With a population of just under 175,000 Chattanooga is what I like to call a "little big town". Chattanooga is small enough to be inviting, and big enough to be exciting and interesting. It is located on the bend of the Tennessee River known as Moccasin Bend at the foot of Lookout Mountain between Nashville, and Atlanta in southeast Tennessee. Filled with interesting things to do and surrounded with history and scenic beauty, Chattanooga is a popular destination for tourists and travelers. Chattanooga, Tennessee is also home to the Los Angeles Dodgers' double-A Southern League affiliate called the Lookouts. The Chattanooga Lookouts were named after Lookout Mountain which towers over the city of Chattanooga.
The Lookouts, or the "Looks" as the team is sometimes called, date back to 1885 which makes the Chattanooga Lookouts one of the oldest minor league baseball teams in the south. Their new home at AT&T Field was constructed in 1999 to replace historic Engel Stadium which had served as the home field for the Lookouts since 1930. Located right on the bank of the Tennessee River, AT&T Stadium is a beautiful part of the revitalized downtown area known as the Waterfront Area. This area includes a plethora of restaurants, museums, night spots, and one of the nicest Aquariums in the nation.
Chattanooga is also home to the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel that is housed in the renovated Railroad Station and exhibits the largest HO model train layout in the United States. Many of the rooms at the "Choo Choo" are located in old passenger cars located in the outside of the old station, making it one of the most unique hotels in the nation.
Chattanooga has something for everyone including a very nice minor league baseball venue.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food is fast, inexpensive and tasty. I was a little disappointed with the variety though. All the usual treats were available: Hot dogs, pizza, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches and even bratwurst. Drinks ran from $2.75 and up and adult beverages were also available for $5. On the sweet side there was the old southern fan favorite funnel cakes covered with powdered sugar. All and all it was just what you would expect and nothing more. There were several concession stands so the lines were short and the service was excellent.
Welcomed and comfortable, that is the way we felt sitting among the Lookout fans at AT&T Field. Because of weather concerns we ended up attending a Monday night game rather than a weekend game, which would account for some of the empty seats. The fans were involved in the game, but not exactly standing in their seats, but then again it was Monday night. There was a good crowd on hand and the feeling was really laid-back. Kids played, and parents relaxed and enjoyed the cool evening because Chattanooga is just that kind of town.
AT&T Field is located in a great area that is full of places to eat and things to do. The stadium sits just above the Tennessee River near and among one of the cleanest and nicest downtown areas we have ever visited. The neighborhood near the stadium is also home to the Tennessee Aquarium as well as an IMAX Theater and some really nice museums.
The are plenty of great restaurants that include well known places like TGI Friday's, Cheeseburger Cheeseburger, and Buffalo Wild Wings. There are quite a few local spots like: Big River Grille & Brewing, Rio Picante Mexican Bar & Grill, Sugar's Ribs, Hennens, and a place called 212 Market Restaurant. You could park your car near AT&T Field and walk to as many as 15 nice restaurants or bars within four blocks of AT&T Field with no problem.
We decided on Big River Grille & Brewing and were very pleased with everything, but it was a tough choice with so many interesting restaurants to select from in such a close proximity to the stadium.
If you are looking for a nice place to stay near AT&T Field there are plenty of those as well. Right across the street from AT&T Field is the Courtyard Chattanooga Downtown, Residence Inn Chattanooga Downtown, and the Hilton Garden Inn Chattanooga Downtown. Just down the street there is a Hampton Inn & Suites Chattanooga/Downtown and The DoubleTree Hotel Chattanooga.
The famous Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel is not within walking distance of the stadium, but is about as cool of a place to stay as you can possibly ask for.
Here at AT&T in Chattanooga, you have your typical small town home crowd. You have parents with their sons or daughters out for the evening, you have guys in their 30s who are still bringing the gloves to the game to catch foul balls, and you have a few older gentlemen who have obviously been attending Lookout games for decades.
Lookout fans look and act like they are just coming in from work and grabbing a snack and a beer out of the refrigerator and settling into their easy chair to unwind and watch a ballgame.
They were very relaxed, very friendly and very much at home.
AT&T Field is easy to find, easy to get to and we had absolutely no problem finding a parking spot. We just headed toward downtown Chattanooga and followed the signs and the crowd and they led us to a parking area that was just a hundred yards or so from AT&T Field. There was parking everywhere and much of it was free and other than the short walk across the street and the escalator ride up the hill, we didn't even break a sweat. It was a breeze getting into downtown area and to AT&T Field and getting out of AT&T Field and back to the interstate was no problem at all.
Parking, tickets, and snacks were all about as inexpensive as it gets these days. We paid $5 to park, $4 for general admission tickets, and less than $15 for a hot dog, a hamburger, french fries and a large drink. Where else can you park, eat and have an evening's entertainment for less than $30 for two? Minor league baseball at a place like Chattanooga's AT&T Field is one of the best deals going for entertainment and value, especially for families.
Chattanooga is a great city and has everything someone could ask for in a vacation spot. They have sports, museums, restaurants, night spots and tourist attractions galore. Nature's scenic beauty surrounds Chattanooga and history is everywhere you look.
We were enjoying our visit to AT&T Field and downtown Chattanooga so much that we decided to stay an extra day to see what else Chattanooga had to offer.
We made the right decision because we had a ball, no pun intended...
Member Review by oldskoolberk on Jan 25, 2014
I've heard mixed reviews on this park. From what I've gathered either you loved this place or hated this place. I somewhat lean toward the latter.
FOOD/BEVERAGE: Not a wide variety of foods at all. Ordered a pizza and it had the same taste as you would from a microwave pizza. The fries tasted good though.
ATMOSPHERE: I'm not sure if it was just the unpainted steel beams that dominated the area and everything seemed hokey for me, but it just had a sterile feel to the place. Just felt like it had an empty feel to it.
NEIGHBORHOOD: You are in the heart of Chattanooga as there are plenty of places to eat after the game, not to mention the Aquarium is nearby.
FANS: They seemed into it early, but after Mobile got 3-4 runs early, they just fell asleep, and like LA fans, they left by the 7th inning.
ACCESS: Getting to the stadium is fine, but you have to do the parking deck which costs a few extra bucks, but walking uphill and then more stairs to the stadium irritated me as the escalator wasn't working when we got there.
ROI: Cheapest ticket is $10 right behind home plate. That's great for AA ball. Foods were inexpensive as well.
EXTRAS: I like how they tried to get fans excited about the Dodgers being affiliated with the Lookouts, creating Dodgertown, Tennessee as well as doing the typical Minor League bits. But nothing else really to go "wow."
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