Old Dominion Seeks Designer for Foreman Field Update

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The Virginian - Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)



Old Dominion began advertising this week for a firm to "plan, design and administer the construction activities" for a renovated Foreman Field football stadium, and it's clear the university is looking for a company with plenty of experience.

According to a "request for proposal" - as solicitations for government contracts are called - ODU requires that applicants have helped design five or more Football Bowl Subdivision stadiums or stadium expansions in the last decade. That likely will limit the field to nationally prominent firms.

The RFP calls for the designer to submit proposals based on the year-old study done by Populous, a consultant ODU hired in 2015.

ODU officials had earlier determined that $55 million was the cap on what the school could afford in order to adhere to a promise not to raise student fees for the project. Populous recommended a modest makeover of the stadium last June, one that would increase seating from 20,118 to 22,130.

Subsequent phases of expansion, which would increase seating to 30,004 and add luxury suites, a large scoreboard, a new home locker room and a tall west side tower, would cost $99 million more. There is no funding identified for those phases.

The initial stadium expansion is targeted for completion in time for the 2019 home opener Aug. 31 against Norfolk State.

The RFP instructs potential bidders to hold overall costs to $55 million, $45 million of that set aside for construction. "Developing a comprehensive building program which meets the football needs of the University within the project's square footage and financial budget is perhaps the most important portion of the work," the RFP states.

The RFP does not specify that the designer adhere to every recommendation made by Populous, saying the design firm would work with a building design committee "to define the building program as it best captures the University's current athletic needs and vision for the future."

ODU plans to hire a design firm by Sept. 1, and finalized stadium plans are expected to be done by July 31, 2018. A construction firm would be hired in 2018, but the design company would remain on retainer to help ODU oversee construction.

Timetable is a challenge The construction schedule is ambitious. The east and west sides of the stadium would be torn down after the 2018 season and then reconstructed over eight months. The RFP notes that "design must take into account an extremely compressed construction schedule."

The 4,600 north end zone seats, where students and visiting-team fans sit, would remain as is, as would the south end zone complex of luxury suites and loge seats and the home locker room.

In its report to ODU a year ago, Populous noted that its research determined ticket demand for a new stadium would be 25,500 and that the business community would support 30 new suites (at $40,000 apiece) and 60 patio suites (at $10,000 apiece).

However, because of cost concerns, ODU plans to add 176 loge seats but no luxury suites. That will limit the potential new revenue the stadium could produce.

ODU's 27 luxury suites, priced between $30,000 and $35,000, have been sold out since the school began playing football in 2009, and there has been no turnover in suite owners. In fact, all the suite owners recently signed new, four-year contracts.

Long time in the making ODU has been contemplating renovating or replacing Foreman Field since 2012, when the school announced it would join Conference USA and move up to FBS.

The Board of Visitors approved a campus master plan in 2013 that concluded the now-81-year-old Foreman Field had deteriorated to the point where it could not be renovated. The board approved exploring the option of a new stadium on Powhatan Avenue near the Elizabeth River.

Populous confirmed the conclusion of previous consultants that Foreman Field can't be brought up to modern code and that the east and west sides should be demolished. However, Populous officials also quickly discovered that building on Powhatan Avenue would be more complicated and expensive than first thought.

That site drew the ire of neighbors in the nearby Larchmont neighborhood and had potential flood issues . When cost estimates ballooned to nearly $160 million, that plan was abandoned.

ODU then reconsidered the idea of renovating Foreman Field. Populous officials noted that the vast majority of the fans who responded to surveys preferred the current stadium site.

Populous recommended that the east and west sides offer 15,000 individual, chairback seats, a luxury offered at few FBS stadiums.

Officials said last June they expect to pay $10 million in cash and finance $45 million for the expansion. The annual debt payments of $3.24 million would be paid largely using existing student fees, officials have said.

ODU has not yet done any fundraising for the expansion and has yet to identify from where the $10 million in cash is coming.

Populous also recommended that the school consider building a 1,000-space parking deck. Although Populous officials said current parking is adequate, the demand will increase with the larger stadium and with proposed housing for 700 more students on Powhatan Avenue. Both the student housing and stadium would displace some existing parking as well.

It recommended building the parking deck on the east side of Hampton Boulevard between 39th and 41st streets, an area now used for tailgating during football games.



Sept. 2, UAlbany

Sept. 9, at Massachusetts

Sept. 16, North Carolina

Sept. 23, at Virginia Tech

Sept. 30, bye

Oct. 7, Florida Atlantic

Oct. 14, at Marshall

Oct. 20, Western Kentucky (Friday night, CBS Sports Network).

Oct. 28, at North Texas

Nov. 4, Charlotte, 3:30 p.m. (homecoming)

Nov. 11, at Florida International

Nov. 18, Rice

Nov. 25, at Middle Tennessee State



Sept. 1, at Liberty

Sept. 22, Virginia Tech

Sept. 29, at East Carolina

Nov. 17, VMI

Conference USA games:

Home: Florida International, Middle Tennessee, Marshall, North Texas.

Away: Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Western Kentucky, Rice.



Aug. 31, Norfolk State

Sept. 7, at Virginia Tech

Sept. 21, at Virginia

Sept. 28, East Carolina

Eight Conference USA games to be announced



Sept. 12, at Buffalo

Sept. 19, Wake Forest

Sept. 26, at North Carolina

Nov. 21, University of Virginia

Eight Conference USA games to be announced



Sept. 11, at Wake Forest

Eight Conference USA games and three non-conference games to be announced



Sept. 10, Virginia Tech

Sept. 17, at University of Virginia

Eight Conference USA games and two non-conference games to be announced



Sept. 2, at Virginia Tech

Sept. 23, Buffalo

Eight Conference USA games and three non-conference games to be announced



Aug. 31, Virginia Tech

Eight Conference USA games and three non-conference games to be announced



Aug. 30, at Virginia Tech.

Eight Conference USA games and three non-conference games to be announced

* Idaho is scheduled to play at ODU in 2021 or 2022. A date has not been finalized.

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June 7, 2017


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