McCallie officials say they "are in a little bit of a mess" after arch-rival Baylor opted not to play this year's football game at spacious Finley Stadium.
Instead, McCallie Athletic Director Bill Cherry said he was notified that McCallie will be allotted 2,500 tickets for the Oct. 5 clash. He said thousands more McCallie supporters and alumni would like to attend.
Baylor Athletic Director Thad Lepcio said, "We've decided to change the location of the Baylor vs. McCallie rivalry from Finley to Baylor because we feel the emphasis should be on the fact that it is a high school game and we feel very strongly that the best atmosphere for high school games take place on campuses.
"We have been working with the city of Chattanooga, Walden Security and Red Bank Police to address traffic issues and security, and we are taking the necessary steps to add adequate upgrades to our current concessions and other stadium facilities.
"While we regret there will not be available seating for all of the area Baylor and McCallie fans, we have been working with the folks at McCallie and have moved our own alumni weekend to another date. In addition, Comcast will air it as their game of the week, and the game will be broadcast on a local radio station (WFLI 1070).
"We have received great cooperation with the McCallie administration and we will try to make this a positive experience for as many people as possible."
McCallie's Cherry said the game last year - when McCallie was the home team - drew over 13,000 fans to Finley Stadium.
He said McCallie is holding alumni weekend at the time of the Baylor-McCallie game and that would increase the attendance even more.
He said, "Our people just don't understand it. We've always felt that we've got this large football stadium and everyone who wants to see this game should be able to see it."
Cherry said one reason cited by Baylor officials for the decision was "they felt that we play so many games at Finley Stadium that it's almost a home field for us." He said McCallie played there three times last year, including the Baylor game. He said McCallie will be at Finley Stadium only once this year - this Friday night.
Cherry said McCallie has drafted a plan to distribute the limited number of tickets, but has not fully outlined the plan yet. He said some will go to football players and then to students, starting with the seniors.
McCallie is affiliated with GPS, but Cherry said, "They are left out in the cold. We won't have enough tickets for our McCallie needs."
He said the move is a blow to Finley Stadium operator Frank Burke. He said, "It's a good game for him."
Cherry said, "We feel that it's also a good thing for the Southside community."
McCallie sent out this email about the situation:
Dear McCallie Parents,
Baylor is the host school for this year's football game with McCallie, and as such, they have decided to host the game at Baylor rather than Finley Stadium. Last year’s game at Finley was attended by 13,000 fans. Baylor will limit this year’s attendance to 5,500, permitting McCallie only 2,500 tickets for our community.
Due to this extreme reduction in tickets, the administration and athletic office were forced to prioritize the distribution of tickets, with our first priorities going to current students and the families of those playing on the field. By the time we offer a limited number of tickets to faculty and staff members and reunion year alumni, we will have an extremely limited number of tickets left for other parents and alums.
In light of this, we cannot offer tickets at the present time, but we will do our best to keep you informed when the remaining tickets become available.
Fortunately, the game will be broadcast live on CSS, the Comcast sports channel (Channel 27 in Chattanooga), and will also be broadcast live via video feed on the Internet. More information about these broadcasts will be available on our Athletics web page ( http://www.mccallie.org/internet/default.aspx?pid=74 ) as the date approaches.
We would like to thank you for your wonderful support and attendance year after year. Please know that it will remain our objective, when we are the host school, to accommodate our tremendous fan base; and we are grateful that such a wonderful venue like Finley Stadium is available to us.