New Premium Seating, Cup Holders and Beer & Wine sales coming to ODU Football

Old Dominion has added another premium seat area to S.B. Ballard Stadium, called The Deck, that will include seats on the stadium’s West Side, an all-you-can-eat buffet, soft drinks, a cash bar and an area to mingle.

The Deck will have TVs showing the live football broadcast and also has clear views of the playing field. Premium seating of every kind has sold out every season, and this is an effort by ODU to meet the demand.

And that’s not on the only change coming to ODU football home games. The general public will be allowed to purchase beer and wine for the first time this autumn/fall.

ODU has also fulfilled a promise made three years ago to install cup holders on the more than 5,000 chair back seats. All of the 482 chair back seats in the Cox Business Loge Lounge premium seat area in the south end zone have been replaced.

Fans will also notice new branding. It will be ODU’s first season in the Sun Belt Conference and the stadium turf has new logos as well as new signage inside the stadium.

“The Deck” will be located behind sections W118 and W119 on the second level of West Side behind the ODU bench. Tickets are $1,000 apiece and include a buffet, free soft drinks and a cash bar. It also offers a clear view of the TowneBank replay scoreboard in addition to the playing field.

The Deck is being marketed largely to area corporations and businesses as a place for corporate leaders or their employees to mingle for both business and pleasure. But the club is open to everyone who wants a little more than just seats in the stadium.

Most FBS schools, including Virginia, Virginia Tech and James Madison, already allow beer and wine sales in football and basketball venues. ODU was cautious in adopting a similar policy.

Pilot program

Athletic Director Dr. Wood Selig and other ODU administrators authorised a “pilot program” of beer and wine sales at men’s and women’s basketball games last season. He said that ODU wanted to see if beer and wine sales resulted in any behavioural problems among fans and said there were none. Selig said ODU was prudent in being cautious, but he’s glad football fans can enjoy some beer or wine while watching the game:

This is something our fans have been requesting for years. Fans are generally accustomed to having a beer when they watch a game.

That has long been the case at the region’s two other major sports venues, Harbor Park, home of the Norfolk Tides; and Scope, where the Norfolk Admirals play.

ALSD International 2022 is taking place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this September 19-20. With a focus on optimising revenue through New Builds, Renovations & Service Expansions, Architecture & Design, Fan Experience, Hospitality & Interiors, Premium Seating & Sales, Sustainability and Technology are some of the key pillars to be discussed by a wide range of industry experts.

Mixed drinks will not be sold at S.B. Ballard concession stands. Fans must be in a premium seating area – the Priority Automotive Club, the Deck, luxury suites or the Cox Business Loge Lounge – to purchase mixed drinks.

The cup holders were promised in 2019 when ODU was doing a $71 million makeover of old Foreman Field that transformed the venue into S.B. Ballard Stadium. Seating was increased to 21,944.

Most of the stadium was demolished and rebuilt in a little less than 10 months, and the cup holders were one of several upgrades that had to be delayed because of cost.

A year later, ODU was in the midst of the pandemic and did not play football. Once football returned last season, the University began planning to make good on its promise.

Branded Seats, a San Diego company that specialises in installing cup holders into existing stadiums, recently finished affixing cup holders on 5,474 chair back seats. Fan reaction was largely along the lines of “better late than never.”

Ilana Davlin, an alumnus and long-time season ticket holder, said:

It’s been a big topic of discussion in our tailgate group. One member of our group would often say, ‘God gave us two cup holders’ when we talked about it. It may seem like a small thing, but it’s a big deal to fans that we finally have them.

Long-time fan Larry Eakin called the renovation of S.B. Ballard Stadium “our shiny new BMW” and the missing cup holders “the hood ornament. I never cared much about cup holders, but I’ve heard a lot of fans who really wanted them. So, I’m glad we have them.”

Jena Virga, executive director of the Old Dominion Athletic Foundation, the University’s fundraising group, said ODU always intended to install the cup holders.

It’s something that was important to our donors and fans. They’ve asked for the cup holders and we listened to them.

Promotional cups are being planned as a giveaway to fans in chair back seats “because they’ve shown so much patience,” Virga said.

Greg Smith, ODU’s associate athletic director for facilities and event management, played a big role in selecting Branded Seats as a vendor and choosing the type of cup holders the University installed. Ironically, ODU had planned to install smallish cup holders in 2019 that would not fit all of the drink cups sold at S.B. Ballard Stadium.

The Branded Seats cup holders were 33 percent less expensive than standard cup holders but also bigger than what ODU had planned to purchase in 2019. The new holders will hold the largest drinks sold at S.B. Ballard Stadium, the souvenir cups.

Branded Seats, a San Diego company that specialises in installing cup holders into existing stadiums, recently finished affixing cup holders on 5,474 chair back seats at S.B. Ballard Stadium

Smith said:

We were able to save some money and provide a superior product.

Branded Seats came with great reviews, said Smith. The group installed 65,000 cup holders at the Pittsburgh Steelers home stadium, now known as Acrisure Stadium.

As for the delay, Smith said:

We didn’t want that to happen. But we never stopped planning to install the cup holders. I think the fans will really be happy with the result.

ODAF promotional labels are on the front of each cup holder. ODAF hopes to recruit a sponsor for the labels next season.

Seating in the Cox Business Loge Lounge was installed in 2009 and were replaced because they had begun to show wear and tear. The Lounge is one of the few premium seat options with availability. All 29 luxury suites and the 400 memberships in the Priority Automotive Club are sold out.

A few dozen loge seats remain, at $5,500 for four tickets. A membership comes with a coveted pass for the Red Garage, which is adjacent to the stadium. Ticket holders have access to food and drinks within steps of their seats.

For more information on premium seating options, click here

Source & imagery, courtesy: ODU

Copyright © 2022, Old Dominion University Athletics

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