The winter lull is almost over and events will soon start up at Finley Stadium. There are already 213 events scheduled beginning March 1 with very few slots available for additional events, and there are no openings over weekends, said Executive Director Chris Thomas. All of the major events from the past will be coming back, it’s pretty amazing, he told the board on Tuesday afternoon.
During the winter break, investments have been made in the facility.
The wish list of projects totaled more than the stadium could afford, said Mr. Thomas, however, Facilities Manager Peter Turk made them possible with energy savings and by doing as much of the work in-house as possible. Over the last several months, $70,000 of improvements were made.
The biggest thing is that replacement of the field has been completed, and it looks great, he said. While the turf was off, new field water lines from the field house leading to six access points for the players, were replaced. Performing this work in house saved $10,000, said Mr. Turk.
Two large backflows were replaced, which cost less than repairing them, and repairs were made to stabilize and level a major foundation issue in the south concourse. New field painting equipment replaced the old unreliable equipment, and a lot of landscaping and cleaning has been done. Energy savings have been and are continuing to be increased. Mr. Turk said he is looking at making LED upgrades for the lighting of parking lots on the recommendation of EPB. LEDs should save a lot in costs after the high up-front costs estimated to be $24,000-$30,000. Quotes will be obtained to put sensors and timers on parking lights at the pavilion. All locker room lighting has already been converted to LED and the bathrooms are also scheduled for the upgrade. The estimate is that around $8,000 will be saved by changing the field level lights to LEDs.
Work is in progress to replace tiles in the locker room showers and painting them. One locker room will be designated for the home team of UTC football and the other locker room will be for the CFC home team. That way each can be personalized, he said.
Energy savings were also generated during the winter months by shutting down and winterizing everything at the ground level that could be, during the cold weather when the facility was not being used. This resulted in energy savings of around $15,000.
An increase in use of the parking lots around Finley Stadium has also contributed to the financial success the stadium is seeing. “It is a blessing, the way the South Side is growing up around us,” said Mr. Thomas. Permitted parking, coming from nearby apartments, restaurants and bars amounted to $183,037 from July 2019-January 2020. Event parking was $26,495 for the same time, totaling $209,532 in parking income for those seven months. Beginning in April, the stadium will have an additional $3,000 profit each month derived from a renegotiated agreement with Republic. The stadium has been paying the company $3,000 monthly to pay for the seven parking kiosks that were installed. By April 1, they will be paid for.
The partnership the stadium has with Republic Parking has been a good one, said the executive director. Parking is the reason the stadium has been able to make so many improvements, he said. The profit and loss sheet looks incredibly good, he said, helped greatly by the city of Chattanooga’s contribution toward the new digital scoreboard, installed last year. The city has given the stadium $300,000 over two years’ time. $150,000 went toward the scoreboard in 2019.
Catering has also contributed to profits. Food and Beverage Manager Sara Hooper has locked in catering for all three Iron Man events in Chattanooga. Food will also be provided for the Chattanooga Marathon and all CFC events as well as bartending services at the 4 Bridges Art Show.
Chairman of the board Mike Davis commended the staff, saying they are doing a great job. He said now preventive maintenance can be done rather than reactive repairs for emergencies. “Winter’s almost over” said Mr. Thomas, “ 2020 is going to be a banner year.”
Guest speaker Jeremy Alumbaugh, managing director of the CFC, brings professionalism, energy and excitement to DFE, said Mr. Thomas in his introduction. Mr. Alumbaugh said he is coming from St. Louis with 10 years of experience there, the last six as vice president and general manager of the St. Louis Football Club. He told the board members that he chose to move to Chattanooga for two reasons - the stadium and the people. He said he sees value in the community stadium which everybody can use.
He said CFC spring season opens March 14 against the Michigan Stars. The season will end in June, hopefully with a playoff, he said. Games will start up again in August with 7-9 matches. The new professional league will start playing in the summer. Also in July, he said a big international game will be held at Finley Stadium bringing a lot of people to Chattanooga.
The CFC now has 20 players under contract. Seven are international players and the rest come from universities in the U.S. He said it is a good mix of players. “We’re off to a good start,” he said.