Chattanooga Football Club will continue to call Finley Stadium its home, as the team has extended its lease for the venue.
Chattanooga FC competes in the National Premier Soccer League, and has played home matches at Finley Stadium since 2009. That arrangement will continue into the future, thanks to a lease extension with the Stadium Corporation that reportedly includes a two-year commitment plus a one-year option.
For Finley Stadium, this agreement represents another step in solidifying its future uses, as it comes on the heels of the recent approval of a separate lease extension with University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The stadium has been shared over the years by Chattanooga FC and multiple UTC athletic programs, including football and soccer, and that arrangement is set to continue after a few months of uncertainty. More from the Times Free Press:
It will end the same way, but there was significant adventure in between. The arrival of the Chattanooga Red Wolves pro soccer team and UTC athletic director Mark Wharton mentioning the thought of a future football home at Engel Stadium made for a unique year for Stadium Corp. chairman Gordon Davenport and his fellow board members.
“August and September were interesting,” Davenport said Tuesday. “We were having a lot of discussions, but things weren’t nearly as dramatic internally as they were reading externally. We’re a venue. We put on events, and we were trying to be an honest broker in offering scheduling opportunities for our current partners, and we’ve ended up doing great long-term deals….
The CFC and Finley Stadium agreed Tuesday to a two-year deal with a one-year option that will keep the National Premier Soccer League team in the 20,688-seat facility built in 1997. The agreement is for 16 games per year, in which the CFC will pay the Stadium Corp. a direct fee of $3,000 per game.
“We’re really excited to be moving forward. It’s been a long few months,” CFC general manager Sheldon Grizzle said. “When we started this club, this was the only option as far as where we were going to play, because it’s where Chattanooga plays. If we had gone to a local high school or a local rec field and tried to build it out, it would not have had that sense of professionalism that we wanted out of the gates.
Starting next year, Chattanooga will also be home to the Red Wolves, a separate organization that will compete in USL League One (the Division III circuit under the USL umbrella). The club has its own facility plans, which call for spending 2019 at Chattanooga Christian School’s David Stanton Field before a new soccer-specific stadium opens in 2020.
As for Chattanooga FC, it will be one of the clubs competing in the NPSL Founders Cup from August-November 2019, with that competition leading to a full spring-to-fall league schedule in 2020. We covered that initiative last month.
Image courtesy Chattanooga Football Club.