Old Dominion University Undergoes Massive Overhaul of S.B. Ballard Stadium

The $67.5 million project wrapped up just before the first home game

With years of planning, fundraising, and construction in the rearview mirror, the Old Dominion Monarchs have finally opened the doors to their new football kingdom. Formerly known as Foreman Field, Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium underwent a $67.5 million revamp that pushed the seat total to 22,480, raised the west side of the structure to 94 ft., and the crown jewel, erected a privately funded video board in the corner of the north end zone.

“We also added ribbon boards on both East and West sides [of the stadium] that we didn’t have before as well as on top of our suite building in the end zone,” says Tina Price, associate athletic director, Old Dominion. “We were down to the wire, but we took an 18-month construction project and turned it over in nine months.”

Old Dominion received private funding to establish the 31 ft. by 51.5 ft. video board.

Controlling Video in Kornblau: Daktronics Takes the Lead on LED Installation
The 31 ft. by 51.5 ft. monolith with 10mm line spacing (a similar structure being used by the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium) will allow the video production team to project functions that used to not be possible. When the demolition of the old Foreman Field started on Nov. 19, 2018, Old Dominion gave a call to Daktronics to install the structure that runs more efficiently and is much bigger than what used to live inside the stadium

“The old board had a lot of static signs, so we ripped all that down and replaced it with all LEDs,” says Dwayne Smith, assistant director, classroom and learning space technologies, Old Dominion. “[The relationship with Daktronics] has been wonderful. We couldn’t have done [this project] without them.”

 As for the previously mentioned ribbon boards, two ribbon boards will run as long as 300 ft. and the one on top of the building will be 125-ft. long. All three ribbon boards will be 3.5-ft. high and have a 15HD pixel layout. With a mix of the main video board and these different ribbon boards, the philosophy of how they use video has started to change.

“We can be more flexible with our graphics, our design, and what we put out there. The big thing we were trying to focus on is giving our fans that same experience they get at home when they watch a game. From our perspective, we have the opportunity to provide fans with a live game environment that they are more accustomed to. [For example], our replays are sharper, we can pull the score out when we’re doing some really big sponsorship messaging, and we can put out-of-town scores on the board” says Smith. “[The setup] makes [our production] more versatile and what we do on the board can grow with ODU and the [overarching] style of the industry.”

Do It While You Can: Venue Project Ushers in Full-Campus Connectivity
Eighteen athletic teams are put through their paces throughout the 251-acre campus in six other sporting venues (Bud Metheny Baseball Complex, Soccer Complex, Chartway Arena at The Ted Constant Convocation Center, Folkes-Stevens Tennis Center, Swimming and Diving Facility, and L.R. Hill Sports Complex). With multiple construction cranes, lifts, and bulldozers galore, the timing seemed right to complete a burdensome but necessary task for the sake of capturing the accomplishments of every student-athlete.

“We established a video connection back to our central control room in the Jim Jarrett Athletic Administration Building,” says Price. “That was a big new part of our program that was really important. It was really the final piece in bringing all of our athletic venues [together] for video streaming.”

Along with the video board, ODU installed new field turf and 2,362 more seats.

The control room back at the athletic administration building can become a bit packed, as the ESPN team of six people controlling the live stream utilize the same cameras that power the big screen.

For Price and Paul Briggs, director of video services, Old Dominion, the production team is relying on a NewTek TriCaster TC1 production system as the anchor. Also from NewTek, the 3Play 4800 is running point for instant replay and in-show highlights. Scoreboard animations, as well as player headshots, are being created via Adobe Premiere Pro 2019 and After Effects.

Forging the Next 10 Years and Beyond of ODU Football
Unlike many Division I teams, Old Dominion is still living in its infancy. After a move to the FCS in 2011, they joined the FBS’ Conference USA in 2014. Last season, the Monarchs took a bludgeon to the college football Top 25 rankings after an upset victory over then-No. 13 Virginia Tech at home. Coupled with their new domain, the institution is poised for success as it continues to grow as a program.

“We’ve only had football for 10 years here at Old Dominion,” concludes Price. “This video board takes [our operations] to the next level and to the top of our conference as one of the best facilities.”

Old Dominion hosts East Carolina University in their second game at the new Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium next week on Saturday, September 28 at 6 p.m. ET.