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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)

Finley Stadium could have a new and patriotic revenue stream in the not-too-distant future.

Paul Smith, the executive director of the 20,668-seat facility, said at Tuesday's Stadium Corp. board of directors meeting that he was approached in March by Wireless Properties about the installation of a 150-foot-high cell tower on stadium grounds. The cell tower would resemble a flag pole that would hold a 20-by-30-foot American flag, and it could generate $850 in monthly rent the first year with a rate increase of 3 percent per year.

Smith added that the lease may be for as many as 23 years, at which time Wireless Properties could agree to pay $2,237 a month.

"I think it will be an asset both monetarily and with landmarking," Smith said. "We've got a big, open space, and it's an American-flag look."

The 150-foot tower would be 30 feet taller than the lights surrounding Finley Stadium, and it would be on the North Gate side of the stadium near Main Street. It would be surrounded by a 50-by-50-foot fence that is 8 feet tall, and all utility work would be done underground.

Smith was given the go-ahead to negotiate the best deal possible with Wireless Properties before proceeding, and he expects the tower to be up and operational by the start of UTC's 2015 football season.

The primary spring tenant of the facility, the Chattanooga Football Club soccer team, has agreed to pay the Stadium Corp. $30,000 annually, with $12,000 of that due during the season that runs May through July and $18,000 in the other nine months. Last year, the Chattanooga FC paid the Stadium Corp. $4,000 for each of its five home games, but the two entities did not share any revenue.

Under the new agreement, the Stadium Corp. will keep 60 percent of net concessions and the Chattanooga FC will get 40 percent. Parking revenue will be split evenly, and the CFC will now have storage at the stadium, Internet in the press box for games and more practice time on the field under the deal.

"We didn't share any revenues last year, and they actually paid to close the concessionaire," Smith said. "It was really convoluted. They paid for the lights, so it's much more of a situation now to where we're partners. This is their home, and that's what my goal is for them."

Stadium Corp. board chairman Bryan Patten expressed his excitement over the agreement with CFC, saying that the relationship this time last year was "like Humpty Dumpty after the fall."

In January's board meeting, Smith was given the go-ahead to explore taking over alcohol sales at the stadium. He presented data Tuesday showing the Stadium Corp. potentially earning $27,500 in alcohol sales this year after earning about $8,250 in 2013.

Board members Ryan Crimmins and Gordon Davenport urged that Smith receive a risk analysis on alcohol sales, which he agreed to do before proceeding with the sales process.

Odds and ends

Smith said the stadium paid roughly $31,000 in electric bills the first two months of this year and added that was not a figure that could be maintained moving forward. ... A water meter that did not have water flowing through it was costing $338 a month before it was recently discovered, and the water company has agreed to provide a one-year rebate totaling $4,000. ... Patten said the Friends of Finley fund has $179,000 in savings for field renovation, which is the largest expense on the horizon. ... Smith said the neighboring Chattanooga Market earned a record $134,000 during its first Sunday of operation. ... Two skyboxes remain available for the 2014 football season.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

 

May 7, 2014

 

 
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