NORFOLK, Va. — Football season is right around the corner, and construction crews are putting the final touches on Old Dominion University’s stadium.
On Wednesday afternoon, construction teams gave the media a behind-the-scene look at the new S. B. Ballard Stadium.
One of the biggest changes? Fans will be a few meters closer to the game, as the running track that once wound around the field is gone.
“What I really like is the fact that both sideline set of stands are 10 yards closer than the old field," ODU athletic director Wood Selig said. "So the spectators are right on top of the playing field."
Construction teams are still working, painting and installing fixtures, but Associate AD Greg Smith said although there’s still work to do, the stadium will be ready to kick off the season on August 31st.
“In the 90 percent. 90, 95 percent,” Smith said when asked where they are at in completing the work.
Crews installed more than 21 thousand seats. The stadium has more than seven concession stands, new bathroom facilities, and a new audio and video board system. There’s also elevators, air-conditioned suites, and updated media boxes.
There is a new clear-bag policy being implemented this season. There are also a few things that won’t be allowed in the stadium.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to live like this, and we have to implement a clear bag policy. It’s unfortunate that we are at that stage now,” Selig said. “Well, ultimately it’s for the safety and the security of all of our spectators. Obviously, we hope nothing would ever happen but in this day and age it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Spectators can bring a 12 by 6 clear tote or a one-gallon re-sealable clear plastic bag. You’re also allowed a 4 by 6 clutch or small purse, that doesn’t have to be clear. Seat cushions must be 16 by 16 and cannot have arms or pockets.
“I would think that most any of our spectators have been to another venue, somewhere along the lines - whether it was a concert, whether it was another other sporting event where they had to go through either metal detectors, or get wand-ed, or have a clear bag policy,” Selig said.
There are also a few restrictions. Fans cannot bring: large purses, briefcases, backpacks, coolers, personal seatbacks, diaper bags, fanny packs, computer bags, camera bags, binocular cases, or luggage.
“We hope it doesn’t create any ill will or animosity, but like anything that’s new or represents change it could be for the first couple days something that we have to learn to deal with,” Selig said.