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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Chattanooga FC has taken the city by storm since its inception in 2009 in the National Premier Soccer League. CFC and its supporters dubbed Chattahooligans have created a hub for soccer enthusiasm in the deep south. Their home, Finley Stadium, holds 20,668 and at times both sides of the stadium are open for the burgeoning crowds that flock to the facility, including the 18,227 who watched the 2015 NPSL championship game.
CFC have made four championship game appearances during its existence, but has yet to be crowned league champions. The club has built a powerhouse that the community has rallied behind and made an unlikely city a destination for soccer purists. Its inaugural game attracted an impressive 1,600 fans, but soon those crowds blossomed to an average of 4,400 fans per game during its second season. Could CFC have its eyes set on moving up the soccer ladder to a higher league sometime in the future?
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food at the stadium is offered at two locations at either the main concourse concession stands or the food trucks near the grassy knoll seating area in back of the goal. There are three food trucks: Monkey Town Donut Company, Spill the Beans, and Taqueria Jaliciense. Spill the Beans truck serves gourmet coffee, mini-cinnamon rolls, and chocolate chip cookies. The cookies sell 3 for $1.25. The taqueria trucks offers Mexican and gringo style tacos, along with fajita nachos and pastries. The lines are long for the truck before the game and at halftime.
The main concourse has a variety of food choices ranging from kettle corn, frozen lemonade, and Zaxby's fried chicken. The prices are reasonable and include pork sandwiches and chips for $6, hot dogs for $4, hummus and pretzels for $4, and pork nachos for $6. Coca-Cola products and sweet tea are priced at $3. Kettle corn is made fresh on site in large kettle vats and sell for either $4 or $7 a bag. Zaxby's sells fried chicken sandwiches for $5 and chicken fingers for $4.50.
Cold beer is served on tap or by the tall can for $6 and include varieties from Budweiser, Yuengling, and Sweetwater. A local beer brewed by Chattanooga Brewing Company is also available at the game.
CFC crowds are impressive and provide a definite home field advantage to opposing teams who enter the pitch. The crowd is loud, passionate, and rally behind the Chattahooligans. The group takes up residency in their own section near the opposing goal for the first half and dub the enemy goalkeeper with a nickname. You will see flags waving, fans singing, and people chanting throughout the 90 minutes of revelry.
If you do not feel like going crazy with the Chattahooligans then take a seat anywhere else in the stadium and enjoy the game with equally passionate fans who have grown accustomed to championship level soccer. If that does not strike your fancy, there is a grassy knoll behind the goal where you can spread your legs out, let the kids run around, or get in a few rays during the match.
The main concourse, behind the seating, features the majority of the food and beverage options. There is a concession table that sells various types of club merchandise. Fans can choose from shirts, scarves, caps, and official team jerseys. The prices are reasonable and are in line with other soccer clubs from the league. CFC displays a nice color combination of dark blue, light blue, and yellow.
A good view of the pitch can be seen from anywhere in the stadium, but perhaps the best view is from the upper deck seating. Here, you can view city and mountain ranges in the distance. A great view of the Chattanooga Brewing Company and Southside Social establishments, both a goal kick away and across the street from the stadium, is seen from this section.
The stadium is less than two miles from downtown Chattanooga, but is directly across the street from two establishments worth checking out before or after the match. Chattanooga Brewing Company and Southside Social are within striking distance and provide great food, drinks, and atmosphere. Chattanooga Brewing Company offers craft brewed beer and even created an official beer for the club called Chattahooligan Lager. There is a food menu featuring wings, burgers, and stuffed pockets (baked stuffed collaborations of either buffalo chicken, mozzarella, and bleu cheese crumbles or ground beef, jalapenos, and cheddar cheese). Enjoy a drink and sandwich outside on the open patio.
Next door is the Southside Social that is kid friendly until 9 PM, after that it's a late night party for adults offering bowling lanes inside and cornhole, horseshoes, and table tennis on the massive outdoor patio. The food menu features blackened shrimp tacos, bison burgers, smoked gouda mac and cheese bites, and bbq chicken egg rolls. There are also happy hour prices Monday to Thursday from 4-7 PM.
There is much more to do in town as Chattanooga is a mini outdoor paradise for both young and old. There is hiking and scenic views from Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls, and Rock City. Then there is paddleboarding and kayaking underneath the city's various bridges and skyline views in the Tennessee River. There is the walking bridge that is pedestrian only offering more scenic views of the area and the Hunter Museum that looms off the cliff.
Downtown Chattanooga offers a wealth of lodging options that include the Hilton Garden Inn, The Chattanoogan, and Days Inn Rivergate.
CFC fans flock out to the matches by the thousands and with crowds hovering around 6,000 on a consistent basis, there might not be more to say about their appreciation for the team. A majority of the fans are decked out in team shirts, jerseys, and scarves in team colors of dark blue, sky blue, and yellow. The Chattahooligans are impressive in numbers in their section of the stands. It is an impressive display of soccer enthusiasts who brace the stands at Finley Stadium. CFC is a proud symbol of the community and fans wear the colors with satisfaction.
Finley Stadium is easily accessible by car off of I-24. Directions to the facility are clearly marked, but the stadium itself is visible from a distance off the highway. There is handicap parking in front of the stadium, large parking lots near both main entrances, and a few lots within easy walking distance. Street parking is available and free if it can be found before the game, but it is $5 a car in the lots. Once inside the stadium, the concourse is spacious, bathrooms and exits are clearly marked, and concession stands are visible as well.
Tickets for home matches range from $7-$10, with friendly matches ranging between $12-$15. A very reasonable price for soccer and one that is in line with other NPSL clubs. Parking will cost $5 in the lots and prices tap out at $6 for a pint of draft beer. A nice return of watching winning soccer in Chattanooga.
An extra for the Chattanooga Brewing Company and Southside Social across the street from the stadium. These are very hip and fun places to enjoy your time before or after a game.
The fans have embraced this club since its inception. With each season, the frenzy grows and the crowds get larger and larger.
The great view of Chattanooga and the surrounding valley deserves an extra mention. Mt. Lookout hovers in the distance and so do the downtown buildings and lights.
Chattanooga FC has the great merchandise and team colors on display at the merchandise table. CFC has developed a very basic, but effective team logo that looks great on a short, cap, or scarf.
Chattanooga FC looks like it may be inline to move up in the ranks of the soccer pyramid, following in the footsteps of nearby Nashville. The fan support has embraced CFC from the very first day and has made the city an unexpected soccer hotbed. The future looks solid for the club and taking in a home match at Finley Stadium should rank up there with best of them in United States.
Member Review by MarcV on Jul 19, 2016
Chattanooga FC has taken the city by storm since its inception in 2009 in the National Premier Soccer League. CFC and its supporters dubbed Chattahooligans have created a hub for soccer enthusiasm in the deep south. Their home Finley Stadium holds 20,668 and at times both sides of the stadium are open for the burgeoning crowds that flock to the facility, including the 18,227 who watched the 2015 NPSL championship game. CFC have made four championship game appearances during its existence, but has yet to be crowned league champions. The club has build a powerhouse that the community has rallied behind and made an unlikely city a destination for soccer purists. Its inaugural game attracted an impressive 1,600 fans, but soon those crowds blossomed to an average of 4,400 fans per game during its second season. Could CFC have its eyes set on moving up the soccer ladder to a higher league sometime in the future?