The eyes of high school football fans in Tennessee will soon turn to City of Scenery.
Chattanooga Sports, a division of Chattanooga Tourism Co., along with many other community partners, are drawing up plans to bid for hosting rights TSSAA BlueCross bowl.
Tennessee Tech University has hosted the state’s championship football matches since 2009, including all nine games (six classifications for public schools and three for private schools) last fall at Tucker Stadium in Cookeville. TSSAA assistant director Matthew Gillespie said Cookeville is the only city other than Chattanooga that has notified the state’s preparatory sports governing body that it intends to make a bid.
“It’s always been our target to get this championship event here, so when we saw a bid opportunity opened up for this cycle, we started to work out our plans,” said Tim Morgan, Chattanooga Sports chief sporting officer. Our offer will offer state championship worthy venues as well as championship experiences for the players and fans who come to Chattanooga.
“I want to make it clear that this is not just about our organization. We are the spearhead, but this is quite a spearhead because there will be a lot of business and influential people involved in doing this. It is about children who have worked very hard to achieve this. a dream, and when they come to Chattanooga we will experience what it’s like to play at the next level. “
The offer, which is due on February 26, will be the right to host title matches for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Chattanooga’s offer will include Finley Stadium (capacity 20,412) – which houses both. University of Tennessee at the Chattanooga football game and professional football matches for Chattanooga Football Club – as a gaming site. The winning bid will be selected when the TSSAA Control Board meets on March 16.
“If you just look at what we have to offer in terms of the excellent pitch at Finley Stadium, the seats and the press box, those are the things that really stand out,” said Soddy-Daisy principal Steve Henry, who represents the Chattanooga region at TSSAA. Supervisory Board. “For fans who come, you can stay in a number of hotels in the city center and can walk to some good restaurants and then to the game.
“The board will look at the finances of both bid proposals first, of course, and then the other factors are things like the best facilities, how easy it is for everyone who comes to the site and has ample parking, places to eat and things. to offer. I’m sure Chattanooga is in a good place to offer lots of positives. “
That Championship matches are spread over a span of three days, with three matches being played each day, and usually bringing in 40,000 to 50,000 people for the event. The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors Bureau estimates the BlueCross Bowl has an annual economic impact of $ 2.5 million to $ 3 million on visitor spending.
“We hold a similar event every day with a convention and thousands of people come to visit our sights,” said Hugh Morrow, president and CEO of Ruby Falls. “We’re a great sports city. We’ve hosted the SEC women’s basketball tournament, the FCS national championship, the (TSSAA) Spring Flings and the Ironman competition, so we know how to host first-class sporting events.
“Finley was designed for something like this. It is perfect because our stadium and city are the size to accommodate large numbers of people, but there is also a feeling of comfort because we are such a friendly city.”
Although neither Chattanooga nor Cookeville provided details on what to include in their bid packages, Cookeville’s latest winning bid guarantees TSSAA $ 253,000 annually as well as 50% of ticket sales upon reclaiming that total.
In 2017 Cookeville retained the right to host the event when the Board of Trustees voted 9-3 to back its bid for Clarksville, which is the city’s only other bidder and will hold matches at Austin Peay State University. At the time, some board members pointed out, the main reason not to move him to Austin Peay was because the seating capacity at Fortera Stadium was only 10,800, compared to 16,500 at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium.
However, board members expressed concern over the condition of the Tucker Stadium, which was built in 1966. Concern over the stadium has been the biggest annoyance since title games were moved to Cookeville 12 years ago and, overall, the venue has been seen as a retreat from the hosting site of the championship matches the former state at Middle Tennessee State University.
Many coaches and players have expressed displeasure with the cramped and old-fashioned dressing rooms at Tucker Stadium, as well as the fact that teams preparing to play one of the last two matches each day have to dress in an additional gym across the street from the stadium. . Fans have also complained throughout Tennessee Tech as host that toilets and stadium concessions are inadequate, and because of the numerous leaks in the walkways leading into the concession area as well as in the toilets during rainy conditions.
TSSAA began hosting each classification title game on a single site in 1982, when Nashville’s Dudley Vanderbilt Field became the venue. The title games were transferred to Murfreesboro in 2000, where they lasted until Cookeville won the hosting rights in 2009.
A country football championship match hasn’t been held in Chattanooga since Red Bank hosted a 1978 AAA Class title game.
“The bottom line is it starts with that place,” said Morgan. “We have community assets at Finley – with seating capacity, suite capacity, new jumbotrons and the ability to create custom game day experiences.
“There is significant passion for football in our region. Acknowledging that passion and wanting to feed it, everyone from Finley to UTC athletics onwards has committed to be part of helping us pursue this plan. Everyone we deal with knows that this will good for our entire community.
“If you have all the tools in your arsenal, it’s a shame not to use them to try and build something really special. Chattanooga has all the tools you need.”
Chattanooga was recently awarded the rights to host the traditional state wrestling tournament TSSAA, which left the city 12 years ago but will be held February 24-26 at the Chattanooga Convention Center. That came only after the original host site – Williamson County Ag Expo Park, which has hosted the last 11 state tournaments – was needed as a COVID-19 testing center.
Chattanooga was also awarded the rights to host the women’s soccer tournament this fall. Morgan added that there are plans to maintain the wrestling tournament in Chattanooga.
“I think Chattanooga makes a strong platform to bring some of the TSSAA events back to the area,” said Henry. “What I discovered at our last meeting was that many committee members liked the idea of coming to Chattanooga for the championship event. They were impressed by the enthusiasm and facilities that have been part of the offering from our region over the years. . “