UTC considers moving Mocs home field from Finley Stadium to Engel Stadium
UTC is looking into the possibility of the football team playing games at the historic Engel Stadium, instead of Finley Stadium, which was built to be the home of the Mocs 21 years ago.
UTC Athletic Director Mark Wharton says they're in the process of a study to make the best use of all the athletic facilities. Part of that study includes the looking into the possibility of turning Engel stadium into a place for the Mocs to play.
"Maximizing what revenue we have, and what resources we have to make the student athlete experience."
A decision won't be made until sometime after the study is completed in the spring.
UTC invested nearly $3 million to help open Finley Stadium back in 1997. Wharton says they're still paying on that investment.
"We were a tenant in the very beginning, we continue to have a good partnership with them and look forward to years to come," Wharton said.
UTC is in the process of finalizing a 3 year contract with Finley Stadium, so if they move Wharton says it wouldn't be until after that.
A Times Free Press article Wednesday reported the school is frustrated over rising rental rates at Finley Stadium.
"That is not true," Wharton said.
The rent rate has increased to more than $12,000 a month, but Wharton says that rate is fair because of the rising market value.
He does say the school would like to make money from things like concessions and parking, which doesn't happen at Finley but could happen at Engel Stadium, since it's owned by the university.
"It is frustrating that we can't generate or find different ways we can generate money off our football program."
He says it's scheduling that's become more of an issue than rising rent. Along with Chattanooga Football Club games, a new pro soccer team might play at Finley next year as well.
"It's been frustrating for all three of us to be able to figure out what that plan is," Wharton said. "We don't know if the pro soccer team is coming."
Tim Kelly, a Finley Stadium board member and chairman of the CFC, says rental costs are rising, but CFC plans to keep playing there, and he hopes UTC will as well.
"As a Finley board member yes of course they're incredibly important to Finley," Kelly said. "As a Chattanooga FC chairman we have a great relationship with UTC and we work closely with them on various projects."
The Stadium Corporation runs Finley Stadium, along with a board appointed by the city and county.
We have reached out to the executive director to get his take on rates, and a possible move by the Mocs. We have not yet heard back.
Students we talked to on campus say they like the Mocs playing at Finley Stadium, but would also support a move to Engel Stadium.
"I think it's fine as long as they have a good place to watch the game and have a good time, I think it's fine," Heidi Bittenbender said.
"Everyone likes a change of venue most of the time, instead of going to the same place over and over," Stone Kemper said.