For those who bemoaned Chattanooga's loss of the traditional state wrestling tournament and would like to see it return, the future is bleak.
The future looks good for state championship wrestling to remain in Franklin at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo, especially in light of the financial statements.
The Ag Expo, which also now hosts the traditional state tournaments that were held at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Maclellan Gym and McKenzie Arena for decades, has room for 11 mats, although only eight were down this past weekend. The building is available to the TSSAA rent-free, and Brentwood coach Joe Blair and other midstate coaches have worked hard to make sure the host schools fulfill their responsibilities.
"It's a nice arrangement the way we have it," said Mark Reeves of the TSSAA. "It starts with the [volunteer] work force. Our ability to be here hinges on the community at the host site being willing to work. If we have that work force, it's a good place to be, and we're comfortable here as long as they're comfortable having us."
In its first year at Franklin last year, the state duals tournament showed a profit. Reeves didn't feel comfortable saying it was a record year, adding that he didn't go back far enough with the TSSAA to know for sure.
"I will say that it had not fluctuated a lot," he said.
In 2009 for the Division I Class AAA and Class A/AA duals' final year in Clarksville, the TSSAA absorbed a loss of $10,400. There also was a loss ($414) at the Division II duals at Father Ryan. Last year at the Agricultural Expo, the state enjoyed a bottom-line profit of $4,177.
"The last four or five years it wasn't uncommon for us to lose $8,000 to $10,000 a year [on the duals]," Reeves said. "While money made or lost on wrestling is a drop in the bucket when you look at the entire year, the board [of control] is going to frown on continually losing money."
The traditional state tournament at UTC didn't lose money and had good volunteer support, but the financial statement still makes it unlikely that the TSSAA would consider returning to McKenzie Arena.
"I don't think you ever say never. You never know what will happen in the future," Reeves said.
Last year's net income of $70,686 was $15,000 more than that at UTC the previous year. And expenses were $11,000 less, allowing the state $31,595 in profit as compared to $4,011 at UTC. Part of that UTC expense was a $6,500 rental fee for McKenzie Arena. The state paid no rent to use the agricultural expo owned and operated by Williamson County.
While gate receipts were within $2,000 ($54,000 in Franklin), the TSSAA realized a tremendous gain in parking fees with a positive difference of $13,201.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...