published Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

City cuts a ‘killer’ for Finley

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield has proposed a $201 million operating budget for the 2012 fiscal year, with not a penny set aside for Finley Stadium.

The city has pumped $60,000 each of the past four years to the Stadium Corp., which manages the home of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team. The four-year stretch includes the final two years Frank Burke served as Finley Stadium’s executive director and the first two years of Merrill Eckstein’s tenure as operator of the 20,668-seat facility.

“That’s an absolute killer for us,” Eckstein said Tuesday. “We’re going to generate a very small surplus this year, around $12,000, and now we’ll have to start subtracting $60,000.”

Stadium Corp. chairman Bryan Patten is out of the country for most of this month.

Eckstein and Patten addressed the possibility of reduced funding at the February board meeting, but they did not expect to lose the entire amount. Hamilton County also provides $60,000 annually to the Stadium Corp., and UTC is responsible for $10,000 each home football game.

“What we anticipated, quite frankly, was that if they were going to cut supported agencies such as Finley Stadium that they would do it across the board and that we might lose 10 or 15 percent,” Eckstein said. “We would have been fine losing 10 percent, or $6,000. We would have been fine losing 20 percent.”

Eckstein said the Stadium Corp. will have to “go back to square one as far as the budget is concerned.” He added that rental fees could increase but said the problem with that is the potential to lose clients.

Charging $10 at every parking lot this fall is the only increase the Stadium Corp. has made to this point.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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Stewwie said...

If Finley can't find a way to start making money, then it's time to admit that building it was a mistake. UTC football is typically the first to blame for the financial woes over the years. However, the facility is multi-functional, and it should depend on lots of various events to do well.

The people who dreamt up the stadium thought pretty big...almost too big. After all, it has been said that the stadium could be expanded to 25,000 to 30,000 seats if needed. Yeah...don't see that ever happening. UTC is better off playing in a 11,000 - 12,000 seat stadium. A more intimate venue that would result in more sellouts would be the way to go. And find a way to put it back on campus where it belongs.

May 18, 2011 at 11:40 p.m.
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