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By Harry Minium
For the first time, visiting teams will have a spacious locker room at 78-year-old Foreman Field this fall. Instead of hanging their jerseys and helmets on hooks on the wall, players will have access to 74 standard lockers, while coaches will have 20 more.
The cramped locker room that has served Foreman Field since it opened in 1936 has been an issue since ODU began playing football in 2009. A temporary tent had to be set up outside the locker room during games because the facilities were too small to handle a modern football team.
Because ODU is joining Conference USA this season, the school was required to update some facilities at Foreman Field. The existing locker room is to be augmented with a 3,200-square foot addition.
ODU awarded a $617,290 contract for the project last week to E.T. Gresham construction of Norfolk, which is expected to start construction shortly, said David Harnage, ODU's chief operating officer.
The contract includes building a suite that will be used by the visiting school's athletic director and president. A site hasn't been selected, nor has the suite yet been designed, but it likely will built on the terrace area next to the Ainslie Football Complex luxury suites in the south end zone.
An instant-replay booth will be constructed in the press box on the stadium's east side.
The old locker facilities were built at a time when an average team might have 30 players weighing at most 200 pounds.
Now, many teams have 70 players, with several topping 300 pounds.
"Our locker facilities simply weren't adequate for an FBS team," athletic director Wood Selig said.
ODU plans to build a new stadium, which could open in four or five years, then would tear down much of Foreman Field. Facilities added to Foreman Field in 2009, including a parking deck and the luxury suites, will be retained to support student housing that will be built on the site. Officials also hope the new locker facility can be preserved.
The design by Moseley Architects calls for an annex to be built along Bluestone Avenue behind the stadium's west side.
The facility will intrude on property owned by the city, which has granted ODU an easement.
All of the improvements will be paid for from athletic reserves and not tax dollars, spokeswoman Jennifer Mullen Collins said.
No other improvements are planned for the facility in 2014.
ODU officials said they were pleased with the bid; they had estimated that the locker rooms alone would cost more than $600,000.
Harry Minium, 757-446-2371, firstname.lastname@example.org