Net income for the first four months of fiscal year 2017-2018 was 718.69% higher than the year before at Finley Stadium. Executive Director Chris Thomas gave credit to the staff which worked to control costs in their respective departments. Measures such as replacing water meters have provided savings of around 20 percent, and other new technology is also helping to control utility costs. Food and Beverage Manager Sarah Hooper’s pursuit of outside catering events also attributed to the increase despite the stadium having fewer major events during that same period of time in 2016.
Fewer events also meant fewer people and less profit made from the sale of food at the stadium. And some costs increased such as for security and administrative and staff management fees. During the first quarter, other expenses included HVAC and fire safety equipment maintenance and repairs. “With events down and net revenue up, we’re good,” said board member Ryan Crimmins.
The yearly audit for 2016-2017 gave the stadium a clean opinion without exception. Everything is going well after the transition, the board was told.
The stadium will be receiving some upgrades to the premium center seating area. Four sections will be replaced with slightly wider seats that have backs, causing a loss of 256 seats. Some reconfiguration will also take place during the change. Sections on both sides of the new premium seating will become bleachers. Over time, if the demand for premium seating increases, sections of bleacher seating can be converted to the new seats. The new plan matches current sales.
“We’re trying to right size the premium seats,” said Chairman of the Board Gordon Davenport.
“It’s a great idea,” said board member Gerald Webb, "If people pay for a premium seat, they should get it.”
The cost for this upgrade is $289,000. Disability access will also be improved with spaces that will be dedicated for wheelchairs at an additional cost of $20,000. The work will be finished before the Chattanooga Football Club season starts.
Mr. Thomas said the kick-off date for the CFC is Feb. 6 with an exhibition match with the Dallas Football Club, a major league team.
He also reported that the new maintenance agreement with Astroturf has proved to be valuable with the company doing inspections and making repairs that the staff did not know existed, as well as giving advice about care. The surface has been leveled and the field is in great shape, he said.
Katie Nelson, assistant executive director of the stadium, has created a schedule of events and rate sheet for the facilities, equipment and personnel which gives a lot of structure to use of the stadium complex. As of now there are 167 events contracted for 2018, with 20 others pending. These include activities at Finley Stadium, the First Tennessee Pavilion, the North Lot and the Stadium Club. The goal is to focus on events that justify the size of the facility that will be used. The spring, summer and fall is when there is the most activity, with about 15-20 events per week in the spring, and, if practices are included, that number increases the days used.
Mr. Davenport recognized the Chattanooga Market for bringing different elements of the community together, saying that not enough is said about it. There are 10,000 people every weekend at the market for 24 weekends each year. “It has become foundational to the fabric of Chattanooga,” he said.
The board approved a resolution to extend the lease for the complex with the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County for another 20 years. The lease was brought up to date with the removal of properties that were originally included in the footprint for the first 20-year lease, but which have since been removed such as the property for the skate park and the Lookout Building. Nothing has been given away in this resolution, said Mr. Davenport.