Friday, August 21, 2009

AT & T Field - Chattanooga, TN

Posted by William Lee Coleman III | Friday, August 21, 2009 | Category: |

Earlier this month, my new wife and I decided to go to Tennessee with no destination determined before we departed. One stop we had planned once we were pass Birmingham was to catch a game a Stars game in Huntsville. Sadly, I read the schedule wrong and the Stars were out of town that week. We decided to go to Chattanooga, Tennessee. and visit Rock City which I have never been to along with attending a Lookouts game. AT & T Field is located on top of Hawk Hill in downtown Chattanooga carefully placed along the Tennessee River, a highway that parallels the stadium along the outfield part of the stadium and is with walking distance of the Tennessee Aquarium. AT & T Field was completed in 2000 and was originally named Bellsouth Park and later changed to AT & T Park in 2007. The program that was given to me at the gate stated the stadium can hold around 6,000 people which kind of surprised me. The only complaint I read about this stadium before I visited is that you cannot see the river from the stadium. My view on that is if I want to look at water I will go fishing. Biggest problem one will have in attempting to watch a game at this stadium is finding a place to park.

Stadium Rating: B

The stadium itself does not offer anything that really stands out when compared to the other stadiums I have visited this year. You can tell it was built on a budget similar to Hank Aaron Stadium with the intent to not waste any space. The 1st thing I pointed out to my wife was how tall the outfield walls were throughout the stadium. The bullpens for both teams are hidden within the outfield wall that also features a hitting area. The stadium has more of a college stadium feel to it due to the large amount of bleacher seats and reminds me a lot of Stanky Field in Mobile, Alabama. Chattanooga's playing field dimensions were nothing out of the ordinary and there are no power alleys. There isn't much foul terrority on either side of the field.

We purchased two general admission tickets and sat in the family section which was bleacher seating. The majority of seating is located along the 1st base side of the stadium. We picked this area due to it being the only area that provided shade from the sun which was a request by my wife that was not located under the press boxes. From our seats, you could see the mountains. The concourse is located under the seating area and features all the stuff you expect to be in a Minor League Baseball stadium. The only area of the stadium that has limited access besides the luxury boxes is the picnic pavilion which provided seating that is elevated above right field by at least 30 feet. The designers of this stadium placed this area in the correct place and it is the only place in the stadium that one can view both the bridge and the river while inside the stadium. The luxury boxes did not seem that luxurious and kind of small when compared to other stadiums that I have visited this year.

The Big River Beer Garden was closed and I never found out what function it was suppose to serve. I didn't get to see the Chattanooga Choo-Choo train move at all and if did I was exploring other areas of the stadium. I didn't understand the barber chair until after I returned home from my trip. AT& T Field has a lot of poor sight-lines depending on your seat. I like how they provided a scoreboard for other Dodgers affiliates in center field. We all want a nice setting, convenient parking and good sightlines. As a fan, you also want good concessions, a wide concourse and plenty of leg room. With AT & T Field I was comfortable and the concessions were cheap which was okay with me.

Baseball Atmosphere: D

One of the things that I did notice is the lack of excitement from the PA announcer throughout the game. This made the stadium feel even more like a college stadium. Crowd mostly seems to be more interested in the cheap beer due to the length of the concession lines and it being a makeup firework night game. One thing I did enjoy was the lack of music playing in between at bats and innings. Some music is okay but I prefer sound effects and movie bits in key parts of the game over music. The atmosphere may be to relaxed for most people.

Autographing: A

If you have trouble obtaining autographs inside AT & T Field then you are not putting forth the effort to obtain them. My wife did the Lookouts side and had no problem getting the players attention because they had to enter the field from a door in the right field corner. I could see how this area could get very crowded if you did not arrive early due to it being near the picnic pavilion entrance. The only part of the stadium that is working against you is the location of both teams’ bullpens. The bullpen players do not have to come anywhere close to either dugout if they do not want too. On this particular night they didn't which was okay considering I did not have many cards for either team. Your best bet is to graph the visiting team before game and do the Lookouts after the game while inside. Gates opened a hour and half early and I got to graph some of the Suns players has they were finishing batting practice. The height of the brick walls that separate you from the field make for a very easy setup on both sides of the stadium.
Outside the Lookouts and visiting team are easy. The home team players have to walk across the field to their cars parked behind left field but most of them come out on a small concourse area in right field just outside the gates by some steps that I used to enter the stadium. The visiting team also uses this entrance.

Pricing: A

It cost me 4 dollars to park, 8 dollars for two general admission tickets that included two free drinks along with two free hot dog vouchers. The lady at the concession stand gave me a free souvenir cup. We got a free firework show and the program only cost .25 cents.

You will have some locals tell you that the stadium is nothing like the old stadium that the Lookouts played in before they moved into AT & T Field. However, I enjoyed the stadium due to its relaxing atmosphere and my main purpose was to get autographs. I would mind attending a Lookouts game again in the future and take some better pictures.

Currently have 2 comments:

  1. Reminds me of an independent stadium by me, Boulders Stadium in NY, but that stadium has a better outfield than this one

  2. Reminds me of Boulder Stadium by me in NY. Really great stadium if you get the chance to see it even though its indy ball