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RiverFest generates $2 million economic impact for Chattanooga

By Staff, 11/24/21, 8:15AM EST


Chattanooga FC Academy set a record this month for the largest youth soccer tournament ever hosted in the area.

The club’s annual RiverFest Classic on November 12-14 attracted more than 3,500 youth soccer players from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio as well as an estimated 7,000 additional spectators, coaches, and referees.

The event welcomed more than 250 teams from 60 clubs from US Youth Soccer and US Club Soccer — including teams from Elite Clubs National League (ECNL).

Chattanooga FC Academy expanded its facility partnerships to showcase more of the city in 2021. Games were played on 35 fields at Grimes Soccer Complex in North Chattanooga, Middle Valley Soccer Complex, Redoubt Soccer Complex in East Brainerd as well as Baylor, GPS, UTC, Finley Stadium, Highland Park Commons, Silverdale, and Camp Jordan.

The event kicked off with a College ID Camp on Friday night at Finley Stadium, hosted by Chattanooga Football Club. More than 80 student-athletes with dreams of playing soccer in college attended. College coaches from NCAA Div. 1, Div. 2, Div. 3, and NAIA programs were on hand. Players and parents also attended a College Recruiting seminar in the Stadium Club to learn about the process to be recruited for soccer.

Tournament teams were able to experience professional soccer at Finley Stadium on Saturday night when Chattanooga Football Club won its home finale against Michigan Stars in front of nearly 3,000 fans.

“The tournament was a wonderful opportunity to showcase our mission of using soccer to make our community better,” said Steve Hirayama, Director of Coaching.

Chattanooga FC Academy’s tournament pumped more than $2 million into the local economy, according to Chattanooga Sports. The official Economic Impact Calculator forecasts spending at hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, and other spending.

The direct economic impact was estimated to be $1,230,524 with an additional indirect impact of $825,247.

Chattanooga FC Academy will host its next tournament this spring — The Chattanooga Cup is scheduled for March 19-20. For more information, visit

Vendors or sponsors can contact if interested in partnering on a future event.

Chattanooga FC Academy was founded in 2012, three years after the founding of Chattanooga Football Club. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Funding from sponsorships and tournaments help to offset club dues for its youth players and to provide need-based scholarships so no player is ever turned away for their inability to pay.