published Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Finley Stadium board grateful for CFC, ready for UTC

Finley Stadium tile
Finley Stadium tile

Finley Stadium officials are hoping their next tenant can be every bit as successful as their most recent one.

The Chattanooga Football Club soccer team's banner season has kept the 17-year-old facility bustling like never before, with CFC's triumph July 26 in its National Premier Soccer League semifinal drawing a staggering crowd of 8,878. CFC had its season end last Saturday in New Jersey, but the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team's home opener is just a month from today.

"This was by far the best July this facility has ever experienced," Finley Stadium executive director Paul Smith said Tuesday. "We had seven straight weekends of soccer matches, and then we had a big-screen viewing party of 750 this past weekend. The Chattanooga FC has been a very successful organization and a nice boon to us."

Smith is still evaluating income and expenses but expects the Stadium Corp. and the CFC to split roughly $35,000 in revenue. The CFC just finished its sixth season in the NPSL and has reached the championship match three times.

Stadium Corp. board members expressed their hopes that UTC could experience a similar surge this autumn. Russ Huesman's Mocs are ranked 16th nationally in the Football Championship Subdivision and are the preseason pick for the first time since 1982 to win the Southern Conference.

UTC athletic director David Blackburn attended Tuesday's meeting and said season-ticket sales are up 6 to 8 percent from a year ago, and he and Smith shared some concepts that could enhance attendance in the months ahead. Blackburn explained ticket giveaways for some Hamilton County students -- which has been a productive practice the past several springs for the Chattanooga Lookouts -- for the Oct. 25 game with Mercer.

Blackburn expects a lull in attendance that Saturday, when Alabama and new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin visit Tennessee.

Mocs fans can expect more water and soft drinks to be sold in the stands this season, said Smith, who added that refreshments will be available under the scoreboard where children often play.

"We're going to try and capture concessions revenue everywhere we can," Smith said.

After months of risk-assessment discussions concerning the takeover of alcohol sales at the 20,668-seat facility, Smith announced that Family Concessions would continue to provide the beer permit and handle the sales.

Though Finley Stadium is no longer housing the Baylor-McCallie game, it will host the inaugural Madaris Best of Preps Kickoff Classic on Thursday, Aug. 21. That game will pair Cleveland and McCallie.

And when it comes to rounding out a schedule, there is always that possibility of Finley hosting a UTC playoff game for the first time.

"You know, we do have those playoff dates open," Smith said.

"Hopefully we can fill them," Blackburn responded.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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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