For the past several years, Finley Stadium has been much more than a home to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team and the Chattanooga Football Club soccer organization.
That will be evident again this weekend, when the facility serves as the starting and ending points to Sunday’s fourth annual Erlanger Chattanooga Marathon.
There are 209 events scheduled so far in 2019 on the Finley Stadium campus that includes the First Tennessee Pavilion. These events include everything from kickball in the Chattanooga Sports Leagues to the CFC hosting Comunicaciones FC of Guatemala, with that friendly taking place March 23.
“I am stoked for 2019,” Stadium Corp. board chairman Gordon Davenport said Tuesday. “People ask me to describe what’s going on here, and my glass-half-full response includes our staff being in order and having a lot of great events.”
Finley Stadium, a 20,412-seat facility that opened in 1997, has been ranked by Stadium Journey as the No. 8 venue in the Football Championship Subdivision, trailing only stadiums at Montana, Incarnate Word, Campbell, Richmond, James Madison, Mercer and Kennesaw State. Stadium Journey rated 121 FCS venues using “all the factors that encompass the game-day atmosphere: food, atmosphere, neighborhood, fan support, accessibility, value and more.”
Such a ranking certainly doesn’t hurt Finley’s momentum entering a new year, but Davenport’s excitement is countered by his glass-half-empty aspect to the road ahead.
“We have an aging facility, and we are fighting the fight,” he said. “That will continue to be a significant focus around here. We just used two-plus years of our rainy-day fund on a new scoreboard and new seats, and that’s not trivial. Those were the right things to do, and we’re going to continue fighting this fight.
“Nothing is too overwhelming if you put it down on paper and prioritize.”
Finley Stadium is beginning another year with not only a sizable scoreboard and fresh seats but with a field that is entering a fourth year of a potential 12-year life span, according to stadium manager Ethan White, who added that the field is being prepped for the CFC season.
Chris Thomas, the stadium’s executive director, said the facility remains “on budget for the most part” for the 2019 fiscal year after the toughest stretch of weeks in terms of revenue-generating opportunities.
Published on Times Free Press February 26, 2019 by David Paschall