Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, along with local and state dignitaries, joined Bob Martino, the owner of the Red Wolves, in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the pro soccer team’s stadium, Tuesday morning just off Spring Creek Road.
Martino said he had two passions in life … soccer and real estate.
“The stadium will connect people through the love of the game for many years to come,” he told those gathered. “This will be the only professional specific soccer stadium in the region.”
In addition to the 5,500-seat stadium, Martino intends to invest $125 million to build a retail complex around the stadium. The design included restaurants, hotels, apartments and condominiums. He hopes to have the stadium built for part of the 2020 Red Wolves season.
Red Wolves officials said previously that they hope to break ground on the 61-acres site in earnest within the next several months. Engineers for the project described it as “challenging” as it is in a low-lying area that is environmentally sensitive. Engineers have stated that they are currently applying for permits with the state and federal agencies which would allow construction.
Martino thanked local and state government officials for their support of the project. He said the sports/entertainment complex would make “East Ridge shine as a destination for visitors.”
Gov. Lee said that “he was pleased that this is happening in East Ridge and it is is just one in a long line of good things that are happening in Chattanooga.”
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger noted that East Ridge was the second largest city in the county and that he has worked closely with East Ridge Mayor Brian Williams. He said the project – the largest in the history of East Ridge – would greatly benefit East Ridge and Hamilton County.
“Go Red Wolves,” Coppinger announced to the crowd.
Mayor Williams said that he was “overjoyed” with the prospect of the Red Wolves making East Ridge its home.
“With this development we are turning over a new leaf in East Ridge,” he said. “It’s a sign of greener things ahead.”
Williams noted that the project would be “a visible anchor along the interstate attracting visitors to our city.”