With three more Chattanooga FC home matches and two more University of Tennessee at Chattanooga regular-season football games remaining on their respective schedules, it would appear that the marquee athletics events for 2021 at Finley Stadium are coming to a close.
That's not the case.
The nine Blue Cross Bowl high school football state championship contests are coming to Chattanooga for the first time, with Finley set to host three TSSAA title games a day from Dec 2-4. The 20,412-seat facility was an annual December destination for the Football Championship Subdivision title game during the 1997-2009 seasons, but this will mark the first football action at Finley in the year's final month since UTC beat Indiana State in a 2014 FCS playoff game.
"We're focusing on the championship experience," Tim Morgan, the chief officer of Chattanooga Sports, said Tuesday during the last scheduled Stadium Corp. meeting of the year. "We're excited about all of us working together to make this happen. With this being our first year, we're going to learn a lot, but it's going to be a lot of fun."
Chattanooga was awarded the 2021 and 2022 Blue Cross Bowl games back in March over Cookeville, which has hosted the championship pairings the past 12 years.
Morgan is expecting crowds of at least 1,500 for each game, though some could be significantly larger, especially if top-ranked McCallie and No. 3 Baylor were to somehow meet in a rematch for the Division II AAA crown. Tickets will be handled digitally by the TSSAA, according to Morgan, who said that each ticket will be good for that entire day with the opportunity for re-entry available.
"That, to me, is attractive," Stadium Corp. board member Gordon Davenport said. "There is so much to do within a half-mile of this place."
Chattanooga Sports will be publicizing the Blue Cross Bowl in the weeks ahead, with Morgan adding that volunteers for the three-day event are welcome.
This year's high school season got off to a strong start at Finley, as the Best of Preps Jamboree in August drew roughly 12,000 fans and produced about $25,000 in stadium concessions.
Both CFC and UTC recently agreed to extensions with Finley Stadium, with CFC's new deal running through 2022 and with the UTC pact running through July 31, 2024. ... Stadium Corp. chairman Mike Davis welcomed Larry Parks as a new board member. Parks is replacing Jerry Summers, who retired from the board earlier this year. ... Sarah Hooper, who is stepping down as Finley Stadium's food and beverage manager, was recognized for her five years of service.
Contact David Paschall at email@example.com or 423-757-6524.