Minium: Installation begins of new light poles at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium, five weeks ahead of stadium demolition
By ODU Athletics
By Harry Minium
The $65 million renovation to Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium doesn’t officially kick off until after Old Dominion University’s last home football game Nov. 17 against VMI.
But to give S.B. Ballard Construction a much-needed head start, the University authorized the company to hire contractors during the spring and summer to replace utility lines, drive test pilings and build pillars for new light poles.
Most of that work went largely unnoticed because it was complete before students returned to campus in August.
But six new light towers are being installed behind the stadium beginning Sunday, and they will be much more noticeable.
Photo by Chuck Gray
On Sunday, contractors began erecting four light poles behind the east side of the stadium, which faces Hampton Boulevard. The work will take about a week.
Beginning Oct. 20, two more poles will go up behind the west side, which faces Bluestone Avenue.
The work will close parking lots around the stadium. Most faculty and staff will be redirected to park in the 49th Street garage.
The lights will be up in time for ODU’s homecoming game on Oct. 27 against Middle Tennessee State and will give fans attending that game will get an idea of how larger and taller the new stadium will be than the existing Ballard Stadium.
The poles on the east side are about 20 yards behind the current stadium, and they will be 140 feet high, about 60 feet higher than the old lights.
“I know people will be asking, why did you put them so far back and why are they so tall?” said David Rochichaud, ODU’s assistant director of design and construction.
“We did it because the stadium is going to be taller and the stands will extend further back than the existing stadium.”
Robichaud said the lights are not designed to work in the current stadium, and thus won’t be used for any games this season.
The poles were manufactured for ODU by Musco Sports Lighting, which also provided lighting at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, the University of Nebraska football stadium and the Amway Center in Orlando, home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic.
After the VMI game, contractors hired by Ballard will demolish the east and west stands and replace them with modern structures that will include new concessions stands, restrooms and much-roomier seats.
Many seats will be chairback. The rest of the seating will be bleachers with back supports. The new stadium will seat about 22,000.
Both sides will have two decks of stands, and there will be a new press box on the west side.
“We designed this stadium with fan comfort in mind,” said Greg DuBois, ODU’s vice president for administration and finance. “That was our top priority.”
Robichaud said the work this summer and fall was done to keep the stadium on schedule.
Stephen Ballard, whose Virginia Beach firm is renovating the stadium that carries his name, has nine months to demolish and rebuild a new faciliy will host its first game Aug. 31, 2019, against Norfolk State.
“We’ve got a very tight time schedule,” Robichaud said. “Getting this infrastructure work done and the light poles in saves us money, and gives Steve Ballard the head start he needs to get this done on time.”