Ringgold High School, which had several athletic facilities decimated in the April 27 tornadoes, will play its five home football games this season at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga.
The Tigers lost their scoreboard, several light poles and had their concession stand blown away at Don Patterson Field. Ringgold coach Robert Akins approached Finley Stadium Executive Director Merrill Eckstein several days after the storms about the possibility of using the 20,668-seat home of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
"Our kids are excited to call that kind of quality facility home for a year," Akins said Tuesday. "I am very grateful to Mr. Eckstein and the board. It was very generous of them to open their doors up to us."
Ringgold will play at Finley Stadium rent-free but will be responsible for expenses, such as lighting and security. The Stadium Corp. will receive revenue from concessions, while parking will be split.
"That's awesome," Stadium Corp. board member Ryan Crimmins said after learning of the new tenant. "Anything we can do to help them is great."
The Tigers will play four Friday games at Finley, hosting Lakeview-Fort Ogle-thorpe on Aug. 26, Pickens County on Sept. 9, Dalton on Oct. 14 and LaFayette on Oct. 28. They must host Cartersville on Sept. 15, a Thursday, due to a previous arrangement Finley Stadium has with the UTC Lady Mocs soccer team.
Akins said the timetable for renovations being completed at Patterson Field was the third week in September.
"Mother Nature probably would have had some things to say about that," he said. "We were so worried about not getting in there [Finley], so now there is definitely a sense of relief that we can move on as coaches and that our kids can focus on playing."
Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6524.