This article was originally published on www.timesfreepress.com.
This story was updated at 5:42 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, 2020, with more information.
CHI Memorial, in a six-year deal, has secured the naming rights for the Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club’s new stadium underway in East Ridge, officials said Thursday.
Janelle Reilly, chief executive of CHI Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, said the entity has a long history of investing in the growth and development of the communities it serves.
“We’ve been fans of this project since its inception and are excited to take our dedication to health and wellness to the next level through this new partnership,” she said. “It’s a big day.”
Red Wolves owner Bob Martino said CHI Memorial is “a great fit.”
“They share our values and vision for the area and consistently demonstrate a philanthropic commitment to bringing people together and building community,” he said. “It has been important to us to privately fund the stadium so public funding can go toward supporting public schools and city infrastructure. Major partnerships like this make that possible.”
Both Reilly and Martino declined to say how much the hospital is paying for the rights for the CHI Memorial Stadium name.
Located at the high-profile intersection of Interstate-75 and Interstate-24, the 5,500-seat stadium is slated to be ready for play this upcoming season, the club’s second in USL League One.
Martino said Thursday that lots of rain so far this year has hurt the building schedule and Red Wolves officials will reevaluate at the end of March when the facility will open.
However, Martino said he’d like to see the stadium ready for the first Red Wolves home game on April 25. The soccer team’s season starts in late March.
“We’re real close to putting turf down,” Martino said.
Reilly said plans are to put on a breast cancer awareness “pink out” match during the season.
The stadium will anchor a proposed $125 million in new development, including an array of restaurants, apartments, hotels, condominiums and stores over the next three to five years, team officials have said.
The stadium is slated to host the Red Wolves, the Chattanooga Lady Red Wolves, occasional various professional men’s and women’s exhibition games, the USL League Two Dalton Red Wolves and college national championships. The stadium also will host year-round, non-sporting events such as festivals, concerts, family friendly activities and community gatherings, officials said.
Martino said the facility, which the Red Wolves call the first professional soccer stadium to open in the state, will hold from 10,000 to 12,000 people for concerts.
“We’re trying to create a gathering place for community involvement and activity,” said the owner of Star Community Builders in Park City, Utah.
East Ridge Mayor Brian Williams said the partnership with CHI Memorial continues to elevate what is the single largest private investment and economic boost in the history of that city.
“We very much appreciate their decision to invest not only in East Ridge, but Hamilton County and the state of Tennessee,” he said. “Their decision has inspired other local and national companies to choose East Ridge for future investments all while utilizing private funds to do so.”
Since the stadium announcement, Top Golf and Jonathan’s Grill have unveiled investments in the Jordan Crossing development across I-75. Also, a Champy’s eatery is underway nearby on Ringgold Road. When the stadium and related development is complete, the economic impact is expected to generate between $6 million to $7 million in tax revenue each year, according to officials.
Williams said the Red Wolves are looking at putting a practice field in nearby Camp Jordan.
Tim Morgan, president of Chattanooga Sports Committee, said the regional venue and Red Wolves already have provided the opportunity to pursue “multiple new sporting events.”
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.