published Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Turf work set for Finley Stadium in Chattanooga

 Merrill Eckstein is executive director of Finley Stadium and Davenport Field.
Merrill Eckstein is executive director of Finley Stadium and Davenport Field.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

Twice in recent years, sections of the turf at Finley Stadium have been peeled back to correct drainage and smoothness issues underneath the artificial surface. Those adjustments were to areas between the football lines only.

A week from today, Finley Stadium executive director Merrill Eckstein said, the lumpy sections of turf that are outside the football lines but well within the soccer lines will be corrected.

"The first two sections were football-related only. ... That's all we had money for," Eckstein said. "Financial stability was not here in 2009 and '10 when we did the work. ... It wasn't a case of meaning to ignore soccer or anything like that."

As more and more soccer games are being played at Finley Stadium, the home field for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's soccer team and the Chattanooga Football Club, filling in the "little craters" on the edge of the playing field became increasingly important.

When the turf was installed in 2005, it had a sand base. Over time, water drainage created the depressions in the sand, which led to the "little craters" on the turf. The depressions are especially noticeable in the southwest corner, near the home locker room.

Eckstein said he expects the turf to be good for another four to seven years, with four being the more likely timeline because of the stadium's use.

Chattanooga FC has asked — CFC board member Krue Brock made a presentation at the last Stadium Corp. board meeting — that the next field not have lines sewn into it. The football lines are a drawback when it comes to the soccer club hosting marquee games, CFC general manager Sean McDaniel has said, or trying to land the National Premier Soccer League championships.

CFC, which is heading into its fifth season, would like an all-green field with the lines painted on before each football or soccer game.

"The biggest challenge you have there is removing those lines," Eckstein said. "The way I understand it, if you paint lines one day and remove then the next, it's relatively easy to remove them. ... When lines or logos sit for an extended period, it's much, much harder because it absorbs into the fiber and the rubber."

There is also the expense of the paint and the paint removal to consider, Eckstein said. UTC pays $10,000 to use Finley for each home football game, while Chattanooga FC pays $1,000.

Chattanooga FC not only will be playing its NPSL games at Finley again this season but also will attempt to host as many of its U.S. Open Cup games as possible, McDaniel said. CFC hosted a six-team U.S. Open Cup qualifier in 2011.

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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