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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Board of Visitors Approves Foreman Field Rebirth

Old Dominion University's Board of Visitors today (June 9) endorsed rebuilding Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium to enhance the football experience of fans, without increasing student fees. Populous and Moseley Architects briefed Board members on the results of a survey of alumni, students, faculty/staff, donors and community members that sports facility research firm CSL International conducted. Populous examined the viability of a new stadium location or reconstructing Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium.

Built in 1936, Foreman Field has served the needs of sold-out crowds of 20,118 fans for the past seven seasons. But insight data from more than 5,000 responses and 1,300 comments received, a high response rate, demonstrated there are functional requirements that are not being met. While fans indicated the most meaningful aspect of game day was the atmosphere at Foreman Field, they expressed the need for the University to enhance their football experience by improving the comfort of seats and expanding food, restroom and other amenities. They also supported keeping the field at its current location.

Based on the results of the study, the Board of Visitors approved moving forward with a phased approach to rebuild Foreman Field.

"This decision, based on solid research and the preferences of the Monarch community, positions the university for the future within a bold yet sensible framework," said John R. Broderick, the president of Old Dominion. "I'm excited that we will enhance the Foreman Field experience for fans without putting additional financial pressure on our students."

David F. Harnage, the university's chief operating officer, said, "The University and design team worked very hard to develop an exciting solution for a new stadium that is a fiscally responsible and appropriate strategy." This proposal leverages existing assets and infrastructure, resulting in no increase to student fees. It also protects the surrounding neighborhoods by maintaining the same traffic patterns currently utilized on game days.

"I congratulate the University for putting forth a thoughtful solution that is fiscally responsible, responds to the needs of our fans and positions the stadium for future growth," said Board of Visitors Rector Ron Ripley.

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Phase I, a $55 million renovation project that addresses areas identified by fans as most important, will include rebuilding the entire East and West bowls to remove all bleachers and add 15,500 new chair-back seats and 176 new loge seats-increasing capacity to 22,130-with convenient access to new food concession stands and restrooms. An enhanced press box will also be built. The North and South end zones will remain intact. Both the new East and West sideline seating will include 26 rows of new chair-back seats with increased tread and knee widths between them. The total plan, after future renovation phases, includes the ability to increase the stadium's seating capacity to more than 30,000.

"Our first priority with the renovation of our current stadium was to enhance and solidify our fan experience in the short term, while preparing for future stadium expansion and market demand in the long term," said Director of Athletics Wood Selig. "The fact that every single one of our sideline seats will be chair-back with ample leg room, with enhanced site lines and elevation, will considerably improve our fans' in-stadium experience. We will be the only Conference-USA stadium and among only a few college football stadiums to have all chair-back seating."

Improvements made during Phase I will provide the opportunity for the stadium capacity to later be increased to more than 30,000 with the enclosure of the North end zone and the potential for upper decks. President Broderick said the next step will be to seek non-general appropriation for the first phase in the upcoming state budget cycle. Similar to Phase I, additional design and project phases will be determined based on fan input about the stadium and future market demand.

Bobby Wilder, the coach of Old Dominion's football team, said, "I want to thank the university administration and Board of Visitors for their continuing strong support of our football program. We look forward to playing in one of the premier university stadiums in the country, in front of sellout crowds."

Jena Virga, senior associate athletic director for athletic development, said, "We believe this is the right choice for the university and look forward to ensuring the rebirth of Foreman Field to its successful completion. We know our fans will enjoy the new amenities, which will only add to our exciting game-day atmosphere."