Minium: ODAF holds first of three town hall meetings to answer questions as football season ticket renewal date nears
By ODU Athletics
By Harry Minium
Some 65 or so long-time Old Dominion University football season ticket holders gathered in the scholarship lounge at S.B. Ballard Stadium for the first of three town hall meetings early Tuesday morning.
Behind them, hundreds of workers were busy pouring cement for the foundation or hoisting precast cement walls into place as the new S.B. Ballard Stadium finally begins to rise from the ground.
But all heads faced forward as Drew Turner, associate athletic director for development, dove into the details of the new football season ticket policies implemented by the Old Dominion Athletic Foundation.
After a short introduction and a video (click here to view the video), Turner took questions for about an hour, and the number of questions indicates that some fans entered the meeting confused about the new system.
The west side of S.B. Ballard Stadium as it looked on Feb. 25, 2019. ODU photo by Chuck Thomas
And that’s understandable. Change is always difficult, and in this case, it’s a little complicated.
The fact that new rules will go into place at the same time ODU opens a $67.5 million renovated S.B. Ballard Stadium is coincidental. The stadium plans were in place long ago.
ODU’s ticketing policy was forced to change because Congress overhauled the nation’s tax structure in 2017.
In the past, seat allocations were based largely on donations. The more you donated, generally, the better your seats.
In order to keep donations made to to ODAF, the University’s athletic fundraising organization, tax deductible officials can no longer give you the opportunity to purchase your seats based on how much money you contribute.
ODAF's Drew Turner took about 25 or so questions from an audience of about 65 season ticket holders.
There were a ton of changes. I’ll try to summarize them:
- The selection of seats will again be allocated, as it usually was when re-seating occurred every four years at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium, on a points system that takes into account how long you’ve been a season ticket holder, how long and how much you’ve given to ODU and other factors.
- This is the only planned seat selection process for the new stadium. Once you’re locked into seats, they are yours as long as you renew them each season. That’s one reason why ODAF officials have emphasized fans need to inform themselves about the changes.
- Seat memberships will be required for all priority seating. Tickets are $200 to $235 apiece depending on where you want to sit. In addition, seat memberships range from $50 to $300 per ticket. Unlike donations, seat memberships are not tax deductible, nor are ticket prices.
Consult the chart below to see how much seats cost:
- As was the case in previous years, season ticket holders are being urged to contribute to the athletic program with “Because of You donations.” That money goes to fund scholarships for student-athletes, the ODU athletics budget, salaries for coaches and to help pay for the stadium.
- Not everyone has to pay a ticket membership. A couple of thousand seats on the sidelines will priced at $200 apiece with no membership required. However, if you don’t pay a seat membership, there is no guarantee you will be able to keep your seats in future years.
- Good news for ODU students. More than 1,500 sideline seats will set aside for students, who will move from the north end zone into more comfortable seats with better sight lines.
Here’s a scenario that might help you figure out what to do:
Basically, if you gave $1,000 to ODAF last season and purchased two tickets for $200, you were $1,400 out of pocket. If you want comparable seats, let’s say with seat memberships of $200 apiece at the new stadium, you could reduce your donation to ODU by $400 and you break even.
But as many fans deduced from Tuesday’s presentation, the amount you donate this spring could affect the time when you select your seats for the next few decades.
Moreover, perks such as access to the Big Blue room in basketball or Lexus Terrace in football, where you can tail-gate and the ability to see closed practices, still depend on how much you give.
Consult the chart below to see those benefits.
Personally, my wife, Ellen, and I are likely to increase our donation this year, and bite the bullet on seat memberships, because we want the best seats possible.
Mike McCarthy, a former Air Force colonel and an former ODU wreslter, said it’s clear from what he heard that beginning the seat membership program something the University was forced to do. An aside here: I've known Mike for nearly five decades. We wreslted at Norview High and ODU together, although he was a far better athlete than me.
After the meeting, he did the math and determined that some people he buys seats for may not want to if he passes the seat membership along.
“We’ll be talking in the next few weeks,” he said.
And that, Turner said, is what ODU expects to happen.
Turner said that a big donor who might have claimed 24 seats in prime locations may not do so this year. He or she is more likely to purchase half or more of those seats in locations with less expensive seat membership payments in order to reduce costs.
And that will open up some prime seats for others.
“What we think is going to happen this year is that a majority of our donors will gain access to seats that they have never had access to before,” he said.
Carter Pettrey, a Norfolk native and resident and an electrical contractor, was the very first ODU football season ticket holder. He was the first in line at the Ted Constant Center box office when tickets went on sale in 2009 (he was also a classmate of and delivered newspapers with Bruce Smith, the former NFL star).
Carter Pettrey was ODU's first football season ticket holder in 2009.
Pettrey has eight tickets. He’s also considering reducing the number of seats he purchases. Two of his three kids are now in college away from home.
“Now that I’ve heard all of this, we've got some decisions to make,” he said.
“But what ODU is doing is fair. They had no choice and this meeting was very helpful."
Season tickets recently went on sale are available online. Click here to order.
If you want to know more about ODAF’s new ticket process, click below.
If you’re really looking for a bargain, they are available. About 2,000 seats in the north end zone are for sale at $99 apiece, with no membership required. At $16.50 per game, they are among the least expensive seats in college football.
ODAF has scheduled three town hall meetings with season ticket holders to discuss the changes. The final two meetings in March and April are full. If you’re interested in attending, email Chris Schaefer at firstname.lastname@example.org in case anyone cancels or ODAF decides to schedule a fourth town mall meeting.
Here is a link to Ballard Stadium web site .
May 1 is the deadline to renew season tickets, and University will hold the ODAF Big Blue Blast that evening at the Waterside District in downtown Norfolk. Coaches from most ODU athletic teams will be in attendance.
Fans will be able to begin selecting their seats in late May and early June.
Questions or comments? Call ODAF at 757-683-6963.
ODU’s 2019 home football schedule
Saturday, Aug. 31, Norfolk State
Saturday, Sept. 28, East Carolina
Saturday, Oct. 5, Western Kentucky
Saturday, Oct. 26, Florida Atlantic
Saturday, Nov. 9, Texas-San Antonio
Saturday, Nov. 30, Charlotte (Oyster Bowl)