Dave Harnage restores discarded furniture in his spare time. "I love taking old furniture and bringing it back to life."
But as he led the development of a new master plan for Old Dominion University, the university's chief operating officer said he could not figure out a way to restore Foreman Field, the school's 77-year-old, 20,118-seat football stadium.
Harnage spoke publicly for the first time Friday about the plan, which recommended that Foreman Field be demolished and replaced with dormitories. ODU would build a stadium, with a target capacity of between 28,000 and 30,000, on the site of the Powhatan Apartments dormitory complex, which would be torn down.
ODU spent $24.8 million to partially renovate Foreman Field in 2009. Most of that money went into installing an AstroTurf field and constructing the Ainslie Football Complex of luxury suites and a parking deck. Under the master plan, the parking deck and Ainslie building would be redeveloped to provide services for students, and the field would become recreational space.
Harnage has done master plans at James Madison, Towson and Longwood universities.
"One of the things I learned is that great architecture and the presence it creates on a campus is very important," he said. "Foreman Field is a very worthy structure."
The old stadium is constricted by a public street and other university development, Harnage said, and the Powhatan Apartments site is the only available location on campus large enough for a stadium. If Foreman Field were torn down, building a stadium on the site would allow for only 25,000 seats.
Early on in the master plan process, he said engineers told him it wasn't possible to expand Foreman Field. The stadium is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and would have to be if the facility were renovated.
"Buildings are OK as long as you don't touch them," he said. "If you touch them, you've got go bring them up to code. The only way to bring it up to code is to tear down the stadium.
"It was a very hard decision to make."
Mark Perreault, who serves on the board of the Norfolk Preservation Alliance, said he doesn't feel preserving Foreman Field was a priority at ODU.
"There certainly are challenges to renovating Foreman Field," he said. "I'm not convinced they are insurmountable, if there was a will to do so."
ODU officials have said the master plan will be tweaked based on feedback from faculty, students, neighborhood residents and city officials.
Harnage said ODU will ask the state for permission to hire a private firm to help conduct a study of ticket demand and traffic flow for a new stadium, as well as produce a preliminary design. He said he's not sure how much the stadium will seat or how much it will cost.
ODU will expand the L.R. Hill Sports Complex, Harnage said, where ODU's football team trains. Locker rooms, training facilities and offices will be added, to accommodate a larger team and larger staff, as ODU moves up to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
The Jim Jarrett Athletic Administration building would nearly double in size with new offices, training facilities and academic advising facilities.
Five parking decks would be built on campus, adding 3,600 parking spaces. At three spectators per car - the industry standard - the decks would help provide enough parking for a 30,000-seat stadium, officials said.
Harnage said ODU wants to keep football traffic near Hampton Boulevard and out of the Larchmont neighborhood.
Harnage said the new stadium will reflect the history of Foreman Field, perhaps with a pictorial display in the concourse or by taking brickwork from the exterior of the stadium that spells out, "Foreman Field," and incorporating it into the new stadium.
He said the stadium study will be modeled one he headed more than a decade ago that led to construction of ODU's Ted Constant Convocation Center.
"When we did The Ted, we took the design team and a handful of people from the university and for a week visited arenas all over the United States," he said. "That effort helped us create a very successful project.
"A project this large demands that you do the same thing."
Harry Minium, 757-446-2371, email@example.com, twitter.com/@harry_miniumVP