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April 11, 2013

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There’s always a fair amount of pomp and circumstance surrounding movie premieres, even these days when movies open—and close—so quickly, it’s tough to keep score. In Los Angeles, where premieres are almost a weekly event, the locals are used to the hullaballoo but even the most jaded show up to stargaze. Many occur in Westwood near the UCLA campus adjacent to Hollywood proper, where a seat at the nearby Starbucks is prime people- and star-watching property almost any day of the week.

In Chattanooga, such events are few and far between. So when Harrison Ford arrived in town last year to shoot scenes for “42,” the Jackie Robinson bio-pic debuting this week, the course was set for a local premiere. And while neither Ford nor Chadwick Boseman, who plays Robinson in the movie, will attend, expect Hollywood, Chattanooga style—red carpets, limos, spotlights, the works—when the movie premieres here on Thursday, April 11, at the Majestic 12 cinema on Broad Street before opening in theaters nationwide on Friday.

But the real star of the film, at least for Chattanooga, is Engel Stadium, the venerable ballpark that doubles for Brooklyn’s famed Ebbets Field, home of Robinson’s Brooklyn Dodgers during his heyday before the team moved west to L.A.

When location scouts for “42” came calling, seeking a stand-in for Ebbets Field, Chattanooga’s own “field of dreams” again garnered the spotlight, playing home to cast, crew and many locals who became crowd extras—including Pulse film critic John DeVore—and bringing an added glow to the old field. The stadium underwent extensive renovations for the filming of “42” and the Engel Foundation is finishing more than $90,000 of additional renovations in its efforts to restore one of the city’s beloved landmarks.

Celebrating the opening of the film “42,” Engel Stadium will open its doors for a an open house from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 13. Sharon Davis, who was the film’s art director in Chattanooga for various “42” locations, will be giving tours of the stadium every 30 minutes. The event tours will describe different places in the stadium where scenes from the story of Jackie Robinson were filmed and how Ebbets Field was recreated for the movie. Photographs and video montages from the construction and filming will be displayed, and there will also be food, games and live music. Admission is $5 for adults and $1.50 for children 5 and up.

Generations of Chattanoogans grew up knowing Engel Stadium as the home of the Lookouts and baseball in Chattanooga and it deserves to be preserved. If you haven’t been in a while, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. To learn more about the stadium and the foundation, visit engelfoundation.com.

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April 11, 2013

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