Minium: ODU plans a grand sendoff for Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium, including fireworks, a block party and a lights out ceremony
By ODU Athletics
By Harry Minium
Foreman Field opened on Oct. 3, 1936 with much fanfare, including a parade, a ribbon-cutting ceremony overseen by Virginia's governor and a low-scoring but exciting football game in which Virginia defeated William & Mary 7-0.
On Saturday, Nov. 17, more than 82 years later, the stadium will go out as it came in - with a celebration.
Old Dominion will throw a block party, pep rally and concert at Brock Commons, and then put on a fireworks display, host a reunion of players from ODU's 10 seasons of football and finish the night with an emotional turn-out-the-lights ceremony.
For generations of Hampton Roads residents who grew up watching games at the old stadium, including yours truly, the farewell celebration will revive fond memories, and surely produce some tears.
Perhaps the most memorable game ever played at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium was ODU's 49-35 upset of Virginia Tech earlier this season.
Foreman Field was once the grandest and largest stadium in the commonwealth, and hosted big-time football teams such as Georgia, South Carolina and 1959 national champion Syracuse in the Oyster Bowl, and pro football exhibitions in which Joe Namath and Johnny Unitas played.
But engineers long ago determined that the unique clam-shell sidelines of Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium, as it is now known, must be replaced.
"We had consultants look at the stadium, and although it wasn't what we wanted to hear, there was just no way to save it," said David Robichaud, ODU's director of design and construction
S.B. Ballard Construction will begin tearing down the stands a few days after the VMI game, likely on Nov. 20. They will be replaced over the next nine months with new structures that include more comfortable seating that is closer to the field, new concession stands, restrooms and press box.
Seats will be roomier and concessions and restroom facilities will be larger and more modern.
"While we'll be celebrating the past, we'll also be celebrating the future," ODU President John R. Broderick said.
"The new stadium is going to provide a much better experience for our fans. We'll be able to provide them with enhanced amenities that have long been missing."
The new Ballard Stadium is set to open Aug. 31, 2019, appropriately against cross-town rival Norfolk State, which played home games at Foreman Field for nearly two decades.
The stadium farewell will begin two days before the last game on Thursday, Nov. 15, with a block party at Brock Commons in the University Village.
President Broderick and coach Bobby Wilder and his team will kick off festivities by speaking to the crowd at a 5:30 p.m. pep rally.
At 6 p.m., a concert featuring the Deloreans, a band that plays hits from the 1980s, is set to begin. It will be a family-friendly event, with inflatables for kids and food trucks to supplement the restaurants along Monarch Way. It will end at 8.