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

President Broderick Says Stadium Opening "Will Be a Transformational Moment”

By Harry Minium

President John R. Broderick announced Thursday that Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium has been turned over to Old Dominion University by contractors and that the 21,944-seat football facility has received a certificate of occupancy.

The stadium opens Saturday when the Monarchs host Norfolk State at 7 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN3.

Broderick said the opening "will be a transformational moment" for ODU, which played its first 10 football seasons at Foreman Field, a stadium built more than eight decades ago.

Broderick hosted members of the media Thursday afternoon in the University Suite and invited them into the new press box. Both rise 94 feet high and boast breathtaking views of the Norfolk harbor, the ODU campus and downtown Norfolk.

He then led the media on a tour of the stadium's Priority Automotive Club, some of the stadium's more than 6,000 chairback seats, mezzanines, new concessions, and onto the artificial turf field.

The stadium has undergone a $67.5 million reconstruction in which the sideline seats of old Foreman Field were demolished and replaced with two levels of modern seating.

Broderick praised University officials who worked to get the project done in just nine months, including Greg DuBois, vice president for administration and finance, and David Robichaud, director of design and construction.

"It's remarkable that we were able to get a stadium done with the kind of amenities we have here in such a short time," Broderick said.

The stadium has seven new concession stands, raising the total to 38. Aramark Resident District Manager for Higher Education Janet McLaughlin and ODU Executive Chef Robert Patton shared a sample pregame meal for football players. Their culinary team also prepared samplings of some of the new concession foods, which offer a much wider variety of options, including crabcake sliders, air-fried shrimp baskets, vegan burgers, kettle corn and more.

The stadium has nearly 16,000 sideline seats, which are wider and have more leg room than Foreman Field. All include back support.

The stadium also nearly doubled its restroom capacity, from 132 to 232, with two-thirds set aside for women.

Broderick also showed off the stadium's JBL sound system, Musco LED lights (which cut energy consumption by 75%) and the TowneBank Daktronics video board. He noted that in the old stadium, some fans had difficulty hearing public address announcer Jack Ankerson.

"I think fans will be able to hear Jack from now on," Broderick said. The new sound system is of the same quality or better than the ones in NFL stadiums.

Broderick said that ODU built the stadium in a fiscally responsible manner.

"We knew what Foreman Field was and what it wasn't, but we knew we would not do a new stadium until we could afford it," he said.

ODU pledged to the General Assembly when it proposed the renovation that student fees would not increase to pay for it, even when inflation bumped the price from $55 million to more than $65 million.

"We knew we couldn't do it on the backs of our students," Broderick said. Nearly a third of ODU's students are Pell Grant eligible, he said, adding that any increase in student fees can be a financial hardship.

"If this is what patience has gotten us," he said, referring to the stadium's many amenities, "I think our fans are going to agree that we made a great decision.

"What we needed and what we could afford were not always in the same sentence. But we did a remarkably good job of reducing costs without sacrificing amenities. There is nothing in this facility that we lack."

The Old Dominion Athletic Foundation raised nearly $10 million for the stadium. That was in part made possible by the University agreeing to allow the Priority Automotive Club to be a part of the facility.

The club, which will hold 388 people, generated $4 million in private giving long before the first seats were installed in the stadium.

Furniture has been moved into the stadium, cooking facilities in concessions areas are installed and the two bookstore outlets are stocked and ready for the opening game.

On Saturday, gates will open at 5:35 p.m.

ODU students seem particularly excited about the opening -nearly 6,000 picked up tickets on Monday and Tuesday. That's by far the most students to pick up tickets for any ODU athletic event.

Broderick, who has brought more than $890 million in new resources to ODU, noted that the university also has two other major projects going up on campus - a residence hall that will house 470 students and a new chemistry building. The combined cost of all three projects is more than $205 million.

An $82 million health sciences building is also planned to be built next to Chartway Arena at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

"There are not many college campuses with $300 million worth of construction under way or planned," Broderick said.

And as for the opening game, Broderick added: "It's going to be a memorable moment for the University.

"I think the people who walk into this stadium Saturday will say that it was worth the wait."

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