Chattanooga Red Wolves excited to debut home stadium Saturday evening

red wolves practice.PNG
The Chattanooga Red Wolves goal keepers get work in before the home stadium debut Saturday evening. PHOTO: WTVC SPORTS

There's a lot of soccer on tap for Saturday in Chattanooga.

CFC takes on Soda City, an opponent from South Carolina Saturday night at 8:00 at Finley Stadium.

And the Chattanooga Red Wolves will enjoy their home opener at 5 o'clock debuting CHI Memorial Stadium, the first professional"soccer only" stadium in Tennessee. The time has come and the players say getting to play the first ever game in the stadium gives them pride, energy and desire.

Construction crews worked into Friday night, trying to finish the final touches on the Red Wolves new stadium.

It's showtime Saturday evening. Head coach Jimmy Obleda said the moment will be moving. "It's emotional because we weren't sure we were going to have a season. We feel very blessed with this opportunity to just be here. It's incredible," Obleda said.

From Chattanooga Christian in season one to their own stadium, the Red Wolves are ready to take ownership. Midfielder Conor Doyle put it this way, "You do take pride in your home stadium, your home field."

Doyle has been with the Red Wolves from essentially the beginning. He's a pillar at midfield and can't wait for that first home kickoff. "To see it come to fruition and see the stadium being built and been training here the last two or three months, so to see it kind of be built brick by brick, it's been really cool to actually see things come together," Doyle said.

At capacity, CHI Memorial Stadium holds 5,500 people. Although 700 people are expected Saturday, it's considered a sell-out. That's because that's all the Red Wolves are letting in with all the COVID restrictions. Seats will be spaced out in the reserved seating area, but groups, such as families, that arrive together will be allowed to sit together.

In general admission, strips of tape are on top of the bleachers. The taped part is blocked off, fans will sit where there is no tape.

President and General Manager Sean McDaniel has waited for this moment and said it will mean a lot to him and beyond. "For me, it will be a definition and a defining moment, certainly in my personal career, but for Chattanooga soccer," McDaniel said.

Hometown product Jonathan Ricketts, who starred at Bryan College, succinctly described what Saturday will be like. "It's incredible, an incredible feeling." The right back will be ready to perform well. "It's going to be a lot of fun. I have a lot of friends and family that are going to be here, so I appreciate their support."

In short, the time has come. Ricketts summed up the team's feeling. "There's a great energy in the locker room, great energy on the training ground. We're all just ready to go."