Chattanooga's Finley Stadium seeks funds for lighting, elevator improvements

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton/ Fans watch the action at Finley Stadium on Sept. 9.
Staff photo by Matt Hamilton/ Fans watch the action at Finley Stadium on Sept. 9.

Chattanooga and Hamilton County governments are being asked to provide $600,000 apiece to make improvements in the elevators and lighting at Finley Stadium.

Brian Wright, executive director of Finley Stadium, said the 26-year-old stadium built for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football games and other sporting and entertainment events needs to upgrade its elevators and install LED lighting to meet today's fan and television demands.

Replacing the elevators to the sky boxes in the stadium will cost an estimated $500,000, and replacing the obsolete metal halide lighting with LED lighting will cost another $700,000, Wright told Hamilton County commissioners Wednesday.

The new lighting should save the stadium about $15,000 a year in energy costs and provide better and more reliable lighting required to attract some major events, Wright said.

(READ MORE: Enhanced security presence at Finley Stadium helped avoid repeat jamboree melee)

Finely Stadium has not received annual financial support for its operations from the city or county since 2011. The stadium hosts more than 250 events a year and helps attract more than 500,000 visitors to Chattanooga, Wright said.

"We're really proud to be able to operate this community facility without any operating support from the city or county over the past 12 years," he said. "But we do have certain moments in our history where we have had to come to the city and county and ask for support for large capital projects."

(READ MORE: Fellow football officials outfit Finley locker room in memory of Alan Cooper)

Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp said the county plans to pay for the stadium improvements from remaining funds from a prior capital bond issue, but county Commissioner Joe Graham, R-Lookout Valley, suggested the county consider using any excess tax revenues from its hotel room collections to fund the stadium improvements.

Earlier this year, the county capped how much of the hotel tax collections were allocated to the Chattanooga Tourism Co., potentially freeing up as much as $1.7 million of projected tax collections this year for other purposes.

Wamp plans to go to the County Commission on Oct. 18 with Sheriff Austin Garrett to propose using some of the hotel room tax funds to pay for additional law enforcement by county deputies in downtown Chattanooga, the county mayor said.

Contact Dave Flessner at [email protected] or 423-757-6340.

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