Chattanooga, Tenn. -- Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and other elected officials joined Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club owner Bob Martino on Tuesday in East Ridge to break ground on the professional team's future stadium and the surrounding mixed-use development. Tuesday signaled the beginning of a $125-million investment in East Ridge and Chattanooga with a significant economic impact on the county, region and state, officials said.
"The groundbreaking of this innovative facility is an exciting step forward for sports fans across the state and the city of Chattanooga," Lee said. "Chattanooga is already a world-class destination for tourism and business, and this new growth will only add to the city's attractive destinations and economy. We commend Bob Martino and the Red Wolves Soccer Club for choosing to invest in Tennessee."
The area in East Ridge along I-75 South will feature a state-of-the-art, soccer-specific stadium, housing, shops, restaurants, a hotel and expansive greenspaces and trails.
"From my first day in Chattanooga, I have been looking for an opportunity to unite my passion for sports and real estate, and today I'm seeing a dream come to life for a community centered around sports. This development will be here for a long time, and generations of families and fans will create lasting memories here," Martino said on Tuesday. "People want to live in an area offering a great quality of life, and by providing live, work and play opportunities, we are creating an unparalleled experience for people in East Ridge, Chattanooga and beyond."
With the idea in mind of creating an experience around soccer, Martino's plans include apartments and condominiums so people can live nearby the stadium, walk to events and enjoy dining and shopping in the neighborhood. To that end, the plan features 400 apartment and condominium units.
"Today we are turning over dirt and turning over a new leaf in East Ridge," said East Ridge Mayor Brian Williams. "For years, this area has remained dormant, and we are thankful to Bob and the team for breathing new life into this property and committing to creating hundreds of jobs for our people in East Ridge."
The plans also include 375 hotel rooms and 475,000 square feet of commercial space. The economic impact will span the region with the creation 1,200 new jobs, not including construction and other businesses.
Built out over the next three to five years, the property is expected to generate between $6 and $7 million in tax revenue each year. The 100-acre property is within the city limits of East Ridge and Chattanooga.
"This is an exciting time in East Ridge and Hamilton County and a historic investment for this town," said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger. "We're encouraged by the activity and interest in this corner of Hamilton County, and we know this investment will be felt throughout our county as people travel here to attend games, shop and dine."
Martino has plans for a trail running under I-75 to connect the stadium and the team's training center at Camp Jordan, which will also increase connections for people in the area.
Because the stadium layout is soccer specific, it will offer an up-close experience with amenities like concessions, merchandise, VIP boxes and special areas for fans and families. The stadium will house staff offices, lockers and spaces for the team to meet, review film and train.
When not in use by the Chattanooga Red Wolves, Dalton Red Wolves or Lady Red Wolves, the stadium will be a venue for non-sports events like concerts.