The past four or five months have been very successful, said Chairman of the Finley Stadium Board Gordon Davenport, at the board meeting on Monday. A great financial report came with the yearly audit and partnerships were secured with two of the facility's primary partners that will join UTC.
Agreements were approved by the board for both the Chattanooga Market and the Chattanooga Football Club (CFC).
The Chattanooga Market is one of the city’s great success stories and the new contract solidifies the relationship with Finley, said Mr. Davenport. The agreement is for 10 years with a five-year option to renew. It includes three Saturdays each year. As with the prior agreement, Finley will receive seven and a half percent in sales commissions, which now includes parking and the Stadium Corporation has become a concessioner at the market, selling specialty drinks and wine. Included is the partnership with the Chattanooga Kitchen, the shared commercial kitchen that is available to local caterers. Operations at the market are self-sustaining with very little direct expenses to the stadium, said Mr. Davenport.
Monthly use of the stadium was outlined by Executive Director Chris Thomas, who told the board that from July through October, the stadium is used the most. This year included the CFC playoff games in July and UTC’s football and soccer seasons. A lot of the yearly revenue is packed in during this time, he said. The Chattanooga Market is also invoiced in October and grants from both the city of Chattanooga and Hamilton County were received during this time. There is very little revenue from December through March he said, but the spring season will begin this year with the Chattanooga Marathon at the first of March. In June, the stadium really comes to life, he said, with it being booked every weekend with various uses.
Comparisons to previous years show that food and beverage sales in 2018 were similar to the year before. The staff is trying to avoid freeze repairs that have occurred in past winters, and are using heat conservatively by utilizing the Stadium Club as offices and winterizing the upper levels of the building. There has been nice growth in parking, which now includes “passive parking” when nothing is going on at the stadium. There is also monthly permitted parking. New apartments in the area are opening and residents pay for parking. Kiosks are located in the lots, all which bring in additional revenue.
Activity at the facility has been analyzed and the results were reported to the board. The price guide for non-multi use events has been updated without many significant changes. Rates charged by other venues in Chattanooga were used in establishing the rates charged by Finley. One change was driven by the increased cost of hiring off-duty police officers. Mr. Thomas noted that there are also different rates for non-profit organizations.
The stadium is in almost constant use. Last year, there were 475 events including all uses with multiple events on some days. The number of hours for these events totaled 2,381 hours. There were 256 “public events,” such as UTC football and the Chattanooga Market and 219 private events. Sunday is the day of the week the facility is utilized the most followed by Wednesdays, which include the Main Street Farmers Market as well as private use such as practices and training.
The stadium is growing and stable and he sees a solid future for it, said Mr. Thomas.