Public Markets to operate Finley Stadium on permanent basis

Public Markets to operate Finley Stadium on permanent basis

June 23rd, 2017 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Erick Yang of Pa and Flowers creates customized arrangements for customers during the Father's Day Bacon, Blues and Brews event at the Chattanooga Market at the First Tennessee Pavilion in Chattanooga, Tenn., Sunday, June 18, 2017. Pa and Flowers, which is out of Carrollton, Ga., sells customized arrangements for $20 and traditional preprepared bouquets for $10 at the market.

Photo by Erin O. Smith

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Reggie White Blvd was packed with people and food trucks at the Street Food Festival. The Street Food Festival was held at the Chattanooga Market on May 28, 2017.

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Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

Given the praise Chris Thomas and his Public Markets Inc. staff received while operating Finley Stadium on an interim basis, any other outcome would have seemed strange.

Thomas, the executive director of the Chattanooga Market at the First Tennessee Pavilion, and his Public Markets team will run the 20,668-seat facility full-time now after being approved Thursday by Stadium Corp. board members. Thomas did not attend the meeting in case there were objections to the hiring, but he would not have encountered any.

"He is extraordinarily responsible and detailed," Stadium Corp. board chairman Gordon Davenport said. "Our team here has been very aligned with Chris, and that's been the beauty of this interim period."

Said board member Mike Davis: "Chris and his staff have stepped up big-time. This is worth going forward."

Finley Stadium has been without a full-time executive director since Paul Smith resigned Feb. 28 after more than three years in the role. Thomas and Public Markets Inc. have been assisting Stadium Corp. board members since early April.

The management agreement is for three years and can be terminated at any time without cause upon at least 90 days prior written notice. Beginning Aug. 1 of this year, the Stadium Corp. will pay Public Markets $8,333.33 per month for the length of the agreement.

"Finley Stadium and the First Tennessee Pavilion have been the home of the Chattanooga Market for the last 17 years, and our entire staff is looking forward to working with Chattanooga FC and UTC towards the creation of great fan experiences," Thomas said in a release. "We love Chattanooga and greatly admire the impact that the Finley Stadium complex has had on our community."

Built in 1997, Finley Stadium hosted the Football Championship Subdivision's title game for 13 years until the NCAA voted to move it to Frisco, Texas. In the last three years, Finley has housed U.S. men's and women's national team soccer matches, as well as a friendly in February between the Chattanooga FC and Atlanta United FC, a Major League Soccer expansion team.

Chattanooga FC had a resumed National Premier Soccer League match Tuesday night with the Birmingham Hammers that was free to the public and drew an announced crowd of 5,700.

Stadium Corp. board member Tim Kelly said the relationship the past few weeks between Public Markets and the CFC has been "overwhelmingly positive."

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.