published Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Chattanooga Football Club, Finley Stadium officials to meet

Fans watch the Chattanooga Football Club play  the Georgia Revolution at Finley Stadium.
Fans watch the Chattanooga Football Club play the Georgia Revolution at Finley Stadium.

Finley Stadium has been the Chattanooga Football Club's home since the team's first season in 2009. It remains to be seen if the amateur soccer organization will be back next summer.

Board members from Chattanooga FC and the Stadium Corp. are meeting today to discuss CFC's future at Finley and the concerns and goals the club has moving forward.

"We are going to lay it out for them, tell them what our issues are," CFC board member Tim Kelly said. "Clearly we'd like to stay there if it's at all rationally possible. We don't see any reason, reasonably, why it shouldn't be."

Among the issues to be discussed are concessions and other game-day operations, as well as longer-term items like the playing surface which has both football and soccer lines on it.

Kelly said the issues aren't insurmountable, "but we are developing an alternative should we not be able to get them addressed."

Stadium Corp. board chairman Bryan Patten said he was excited about the chance to sit down with the CFC officials, some of whom he's never met.

"They're younger guys and what they're trying to do and what we're trying to do are entirely compatible," Patten said.

The club has brought an unexpected summertime revenue stream -- Kelly estimated as much as $40,000 this season -- to the stadium. In nine home games this season, the most CFC has had in its three seasons, the club averaged about 1,700 a game.

The stadium gets a small rental fee from the club, but most of its revenue from the games comes from parking and concessions.

CFC general manager Sean McDaniel said as the club grows and helps Chattanooga become a "soccer city," with events at the stadium like international exhibitions or Major League Soccer preseason games, the nature of CFC's relationship with the stadium needs to change.

"We want to be a partner versus a tenant," he said.

Finley Stadium had $60,000 cut from its budget this year when the City of Chattanooga cut its funding, so both parties apparently need one another.

"We have co-equal reasons to be interested in the stadium facility, so I want to get to know them better and see how they feel about things," said Patten, who will be joined at the meeting by fellow Stadium Corp. board members Ryan Crimmins, Jerry Summers and Gordon Davenport.

McDaniel said the club will have to know where it's playing in 2012 by the end of year because it will need to hold tryouts and set its schedule, including the location of its home field, with the National Premier Soccer League.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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