Mayor Kelly and Chairs Eversole and Dotley announce final stadium deal: Lookouts now to cover 20% of increased construction costs

Maximum TIF reimbursement limited to $112m; everything over to be the private sector’s responsibility.

  • Final deal reduces the need for new debt by 20% (from $40 million to $32 million)
  • Final deal maintains  the Lookouts’ $1M+ annual rent payment (highest in minor league history)
  • Final deal allows the City and County to receive millions in new tax revenue annually for general use years earlier than previously negotiated

Chattanooga, Tenn. (January 29, 2024) – Mayor Tim Kelly, Chairman Jeff Eversole, and Chairwoman Raquetta Dotley have secured a final deal for the residents of Hamilton County and Chattanooga regarding the mixed-use stadium in the South Broad District. The final deal for the $120 million project calls for the Chattanooga Lookouts to cover all costs above $112 million. 

Despite this concession, the Lookouts will still sign a 30-year lease payment of $1 million per year (the highest in Minor League Baseball history). Of the $112 million maximum cost to the City-County Sports Authority:

  • $80 million will be financed by the Sports Authority bonds already approved in 2022 
  • $32 million will be loaned to the Sports Authority by Perimeter Properties (landowners) and the Lookouts (and will be subordinate to the $80 million of public financing)
  • $3 million in cash will be contributed to construction by the Lookouts.
  • Any additional stadium costs above $112 million will be the responsibility of Perimeter Properties and the Lookouts.

With City Council approval, the City will fund $10M toward public roads and Perimeter Properties or future developers will bear the cost of all remaining infrastructure (currently expected to be an additional $15 million). Perimeter will also donate 9 acres of land for the stadium in addition to the 12 acres of land they have previously donated to extend the Tennessee Riverwalk (a total of 21 donated acres).

Good faith negotiations continue for a Community Benefits Agreement between CALEB, the Lookouts, and Perimeter.

Presentations on this final deal will be made before the City Council and County Commission this week during regular meetings. Votes on this final deal will be held at their meetings next week.

Chairman Jeff Eversole, who initiated and led the joint Council/Commission meeting on the stadium project at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce earlier this year, deserves praise for initiating and leading negotiations for this better deal.

“Anyone who has read the Times Free Press, watched local news, or scrolled through social media recently could tell you there was a lack of negotiation happening, and that concerned me. As Chairman of the County Commission, I felt a responsibility to leverage my career in business to lead an honest, face-to-face negotiation between local government and the private sector so that a better deal could be made for our community. This is a much better deal that proves yet again that ‘working together works.’ I’m proud to have brought reasonable folks together to solve a problem in a professional manner that resulted in a win-win for everybody. Most importantly for my district in Ooltewah – the fastest growing segment of Hamilton County – the development catalyzed by the stadium will hopefully relieve some of the growth pressure from my community because hundreds of new homes will soon be built downtown.”

Hamilton County Commission Chairman Jeff Eversole (District 10) 

“I have been working hard to make this project a reality since the day I came into office, so I am very happy we were able to work with our partners at the County, our City Council, and the private market to finally grind out this deal. I’ve handled some tough negotiations over 30 years in business, but I have never worked harder- along with my talented team, led by Jermaine Freeman- to make one happen, and it’s a win for all parties. And it’s a deal we can all be proud of, because it means that the vast, rusting brownfield that now sits vacant on our Southside will be transformed into something everyone in Chattanooga and Hamilton County can be proud of for years to come, creating great economic opportunities for a neighborhood  that hasn’t seen any in ages, and producing millions in tax revenues to benefit our residents as well.“

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly 

“I am thrilled to support this project in and for our community, who has been engaged in this vision since its beginning and who has pushed for continued revitalization in South Chattanooga for decades. It will deliver new housing, jobs, investment, and tax revenue for schools and public services for every Chattanoogan, especially those living in or near the TIF district in District 7. Honest, tough, fair negotiations with great partners got us to this point, and I am grateful to everyone involved for staying the course and believing in this project enough to get it over the finish line.”

Chattanooga City Council Chair Raquetta Dotley (District 7) 

“While this arrangement is far from what we had originally proposed, we believe this new deal is in the best interest of all parties. It will assure the future of the Lookouts and baseball in Chattanooga for decades to come. The project will create a tremendous community asset and unlock an enormous amount of untapped potential at this site, helping to revitalize South Chattanooga and provide hundreds of millions of dollars for schools and other community needs. Thank you to Mayor Kelly, Chairman Eversole and Chairwoman Dotley for their essential leadership and for being willing to sit down to help us find a path forward on this important project.”

Lookouts Managing Owner Jason Freier

“I am grateful to Mayor Kelly, Chairman Eversole and Chairwoman Dotley for the many hours they have put into helping us reach this impactful public-private partnership to reshape our city and its western gateway.”

President of Perimeter Properties Gary Chazen

According to the conservative estimates of the Younger study (a firm used by the City and County many times, including at the Bend TIF), this stadium should catalyze over 30 years:

  1. New tax revenue generated for County schools: $186 million (in new property tax revenue and new local-option sales tax revenue)
  2. New tax revenue generated for City & County (excluding schools): $102 million
  3. Development within the total TIF district: $1.1 billion
  4. Regional economic impact: $2.3 billion