Why is ODU proposing to tear down Foreman Field?


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, harry.minium@pilotonline.com, twitter.com/@harry_miniumVP

Posted to: College Football Norfolk ODU Football Sports

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Where does he propose to get the money for a new stadium, new dorms, and the parking facilities? Seems like the football program should be a success and warrant a larger facility closer to the river that never overflows its banks before a lot of money is invested. This reminds me of the days of the Rhinos and the recent Comcast adventure in VB, both premised on "if we build it they will come". I think there are a few delusions of VA Tech here.

Article is about odu

Hey bootman the article is about odu not VA TECH !!

The team is a success, sells

The team is a success, sells out every game and in the 30 years I've lived here, that area has never flooded. Guess you'll be sending money to help support the progress.


The Money for this stadium and all upgrades to athletic facilities will come from where the money for expansion of athletics has always come from student fees, ticket sales, and donors. Tax dollars are forbidden from being spent on collegiate athletic programs in Virginia and as such all requirements are paid for through the generosity of those that wish to see the future of the institution and the region brightened. From your comment it appears that you will not be contributing or using the facilities so you could also cease from being part of the conversation.

Where does any other university get money?

The mindset in this region is just incredible!

Is there anything worth building to enhance Hampton Roads? I guess we should just wait for our knight in shining armor offering to build his kingdom with no tax payer required!


We have nothing in common with Virginia Tech but yes we do believe money grows on trees when it comes to the growth of ODU football.

Seriously? Other than one

Seriously? Other than one being urban and the other being rural the ODU of today is very similar to VT of 30 or 40 years ago. Given time and resources, I suspect we will see ODU become very similar to VT within the next 20 or 30 years. Land is an issue, as is state funding but building up instead of out will help with that. Virginia and especially our region can use another great large state school.

I agree

You hit the nail on the head. ODU is just getting started in terms of being "great" and well-known rather than being "good" and moderately known as people see it now. Every single thing at ODU is on the upswing. ODU does have a problem with building up, which is something VCU quickly had to get over.

If done well, this region will have a great stadium with a great team from a great school. The only thing that would hinder this progress is the continually negative attitude of the general Hampton Roads population. The only thing that'll show 'em is success.

After living here for more

After living here for more than 20 years I have recognized that people from this area hold it in such low esteem. Market 41/42 is not a small market. Yet for some reason people don't think this area belongs with their market peers (e.g., OKC, Louisville, Nashville, New Orleans).

True. The general attitude

True. The general attitude here is: We Can't Do It!

I've Lived Here for 55 Years!

I have seen the area evolve from thinking only in terms of neighborhoods and communities to expanding that out to a more regional perspective. It has come slowly, and it continues to run into the negative reaction from some members of the community. Thankfully, there are committed leaders in our region to bring the nay sayers into the modern era.
It helps if those of us who are forward thinking and positive just ignore the penny-wise, pound foolish, nattering nabobs of negativism (assist from Spiro Agnew).
At 55 years old I place a high premium on not letting them continue to hold us back. Go Monarchs! Go Hampton Roads!

New stadium

If ODU wants design ideas they should go look at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. It seats 34, 000 and can be expanded. Thier stadium is well done.

Great for ODU and this Region

Hats off to ODU and thinking big. ODU Football has completely changed the campus and region. Norfolk should embrace the university and football program for bringing nothing but a positive 'vibe' to the region. Go ODU, continue to enhance your university, the region, and regardless of naysayers, continue to show what hard work and dedication can accomplish!!

Colley Bay

I don't understand why nobody has considered using Colley Bay for the new stadium like Baylor... especially if they are considering demolishing Rogers and Gresham.


Foreman Field

A new stadium will be needed. Foreman Field is a dump and has been. That being said, we need to get the program established as a respected and competitive FBS program, then use the momentum from that to pursue a new stadium. A lot of money was spent on Foreman Field, and, based on the mentality in the area, we should use it for a few more years so the average Joe in Hampton Roads will be more receptive to a new stadium.

Honoring Foreman Field

As the article eluded to I would like to see them use some of the brick from the old stadium and incorporate it into the design of perhaps the entry way into the new stadium, maybe a brick arc that is in line with the clamshell feel with foreman field inset signage. I would prefer, in other words that the new stadium feels "retro" in some respects, at least perhaps in some way visually on approach to the main gate.

Good Idea!

Good Idea!

I think that ODU should talk to the firm that designed Harbor Park (if they do football venues). Harbor Park has that "retro vibe" but has all of the modern amenities, while feeling like a pleasant & comfortable place to watch a game.

Locating it on Colley Bay would complete the water-side picture, while giving better access than trying to get all of those people back to Powhattan!


btw... replacing a 20,118-seat stadium with a 28-30,000 seat stadium is ridiculously short-sighted. 40-50k would be far more appropriate!

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