The Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club announced Thursday it will build a stadium to host matches beginning in the 2020 United Soccer League season.
"Building our own soccer-specific stadium allows us to create an atmosphere true to our fans, team and the sport that can't be replicated elsewhere," Red Wolves owner Bob Martino said in a news release. "Making Chattanooga a better place to live, work and play through creating a family-oriented soccer experience is a priority for us. As I said when I first announced the team, I am personally and professionally committed to Chattanooga. This stadium will have an enormous economic impact around the region."
When the Red Wolves debut next year as part of USL League One, they will play matches at Chattanooga Christian School's David Stanton Field, which seats 3,500. The club plans to add temporary seating that will allow attendance of up to 5,000, which will be similar to the new stadium.
Although Martino has not disclosed plans for where the new facility would be located, the area of Broad Street close to CCS could be a possibility. Although the Chattanooga Lookouts have explored developing a facility in that area as well, the soccer and baseball projects are not related.
The Red Wolves' release touted their planned venue as a "first-class soccer facility designed to include skyboxes, a fan zone, several dining options, a merchandise store and hospitality areas." According to the release, Martino is considering developing retail, commercial and housing options around the stadium, too.
At CCS, the Red Wolves plan to have food trucks and a youth-geared area with games among their hospitality options, according to the release.
"Chattanooga Christian School has outstanding athletic facilities, including a brand-new weight room," Red Wolves president and general manager Sean McDaniel said. "We are grateful for the school and President Chad Dirkse allowing us to use their home field while our stadium is being built."
According to the release, there are no expected conflicts between the Red Wolves and school functions.
"Our school has a strong soccer program we are very proud of," Dirkse said. "We believe this partnership will deepen the soccer roots at our school and in our community."
The Red Wolves had planned to play their matches at Finley Stadium, but multiple sources told the Times Free Press the two sides could not come to an agreement.
According to a source, Finley representatives had offered the Red Wolves a deal similar to the one for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, which hosts football and women's soccer games there: a three-year agreement costing $146,880 annually with a 2 percent increase each year.
The Red Wolves would have received all revenue from ticket sales and 50 percent of net income from both food and truck concessions and north parking lot revenues, plus 20 percent of gross revenue from general food and beverage concessions. Finley would have received all of the revenue from skybox rentals and from the sale of food and beverage to skybox patrons.
In addition to UTC, Finley has been the home of the amateur Chattanooga Football Club, which has played there since debuting in 2009. The National Premier Soccer League team currently has no deal with the facility but is in negotiations.
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