Like a lot of stadiums around the Southeast, AT&T Field is one that I visited many years before I started blogging about my stadium visits. I first visited what was called BellSouth Park in 2002, but my history of visiting stadiums in Chattanooga dates to 1993 when I saw the Lookouts play at Engel Stadium.
Chattanooga is about 90 minutes from where I grew up in metro Atlanta, which is why one of my first visits to a Minor League Baseball stadium was a Lookouts game. I made this trip because I wanted to write about a nearby stadium, and I’m slowly, but surely working to attending a game at all the active stadiums in Minor League Baseball. I am not Ben Hill nor am I trying to replicate his outstanding work, but I can write about the gameday experience from a fan’s perspective (read Ben Hill’s non-gameday visit here and about his excursion to Engel Stadium here).
One of the great things about the ballpark is its location, not exactly in downtown Chattanooga but adjacent to all the sights. The stadium sits atop a hill on the western side of downtown.
|Due to its location atop a hill AT&T Field has an escalator.|
|Plaques honoring Cal Ermer and Tommy Lasorda.|
Growing up the Lookouts had been a Cincinnati Reds affiliate, so it was a bit weird to see “Welcome to Dodgertown, Tennessee” above the main gates.
|The signage says it all.|
The team has been a Los Angeles Dodgers affiliate since 2009, and the team has done a lot to incorporate that connection into the team’s identity. The Lookouts toned down the use of red as a team color, and ramped up the use of blue, which is visible in the team’s uniforms and caps. AT&T uses blue in its logo, so I can’t say all the blue used by the Lookouts is because of the Dodgers affiliation, but the shades of blue are different and the hue on the uniforms clearly appears to be Dodger blue.
As usual, I walked around the stadium before the game and captured a picture of the starting lineups. I don’t pay much attention to lineups unless there is a prospect I’m particularly interested in watching and know about him before going to the game.
|The night’s starting lineups.|
The concourse as AT&T Field is below the seating bowl, so fans cannot see the game action while waiting in line at the concession stands. However, the concourse is extremely wide, has plenty of stands, and monitors showing a closed-circuit feed of the game.
|A concession stand below a banner showing former Lookout and current Dodger reliever Kenley Jansen.|
|A view of the concourse with a beer stand in the foreground.|
Deciding on a food item was difficult, so I watched some of the game before . I also decided on getting a beer from the Big River Grille & Brewing Works Beer Garden. After getting a Chattanooga Steamer amber ale, I took my seat and captured the first pitch from Chattanooga starting pitcher Nick Struck.
|First pitch between the Birmingham Barons and Chattanooga Lookouts.|
Following the first pitch, I walked around a bit and found a wood-carved statue of the team’s mascot, Looie. I asked one of the workers at the promotions table to take my picture in exchange for me signing up to participate in a between-innings contest of musical chairs.
|It’s a bit blurry, but you get the idea.|
At the middle of the third, I met up with staff member Alex (notable for giving Ben Hill a tour of the stadium earlier this summer), the two other contestants and headed toward the third base line near the batting cages and the home team’s bullpen.
While talking with Alex, I was able to get my requisite picture with the team’s mascot.
|Me with Looie.|
Traveling by myself, I don’t have any of my own pictures of the musical chairs contest, but I was able to get two that Alex took to include here.
|Round 1: Dancing to House of Pain’s “Jump Around”|
|Round 2: Still dancing to “Jump Around”|
After collecting my prize, I decided to get a jumbo hot dog with yellow mustard and got another beer from the beer garden. I opted for the jumbo dog because it is the “classic” ballpark item, and the Lookouts featured it as their submission for MiLB.com’s 2014 Food Fight contest.
|View of the Big River Beer Garden with U.S. Highway 27 running alongside the ballpark.|
After eating, I watched more of the game and took some photos of the stadium.
|Game action with the Mayfield Dairy Ice Cream stand in the background.|
|View of the scoreboard.|
|View of right field seats.|
|The Tennessee Aquarium in the background with Lasorda’s Landing in the foreground.|
|View of the grandstand with signage for AT&T Field members Cal Ermer and Tommy Lasorda.|
While taking pictures showing off different vantage points of the stadium, I got photos of the other between-inning contests. The Lookouts did a dizzy-bat race, but my favorite was the Hardee’s Hamburger Roll.
|Between-inning contest where contestants must roll hamburgers to Looie.|
As I attended a game on a Friday evening, I got to enjoy post-game fireworks. Post-game fireworks are a staple of the minors, and Chattanooga is no exception.
As I expected, I had a great time at the Lookouts game. The on-field entertainment was unique, but not overdone. The beer choices were good, but I would’ve enjoyed see more local selections at the concession stands. The only Tennessee-brewed beers I found were at the beer garden. Granted, the choices from Big River were very good beers.
The food selection was the typical ballpark fare, and while the traditionalist in me appreciates the simple choices I was disappointed that there wasn’t at least ONE signature item. With that in mind, the food was good and the service was quick.
One thing that is clear about the gameday experience at AT&T Field is that the Lookouts place an emphasis on the fans having a good time. The stadium is well-staffed and everybody I interacted with during my visit was friendly and helpful. I just lucked out by winning an on-field contest and getting to close the night with a very good fireworks show.