Old Dominion’s Board of Visitors on Thursday unanimously approved a master plan that greatly increases classroom and student support space, as well as calls for a new on-campus football stadium.
ODU will add more than 1.2 million square feet of building space, as well as new student housing and parking on its Norfolk campus — all without expanding beyond present campus boundaries.
Chief Operating Officer Dave Harnage presented the plan to the board Thursday. He oversaw the plan, which was released in August. He solicited feedback from student groups, city officials and nearby neighborhood associations before presenting the amended version Thursday.
The major athletic component of the plan is a new football stadium expected to seat at least 30,000, to be built on the west side of campus near Powhatan Avenue, within sight of the Elizabeth River.
Engineers determined that it would be costlier to expand and properly fit the football team’s present home, Foreman Field, than to build a new stadium for the program’s move upward to the Football Bowl Subdivision and Conference USA.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, Harnage said that the school asked the General Assembly for permission to spend $1.5 million on a stadium consultant. A new stadium study won’t start before 2014 and could take a year to complete.
There is no cost or timetable on construction of a new stadium, though the Monarchs will host a full slate of Conference USA opponents beginning next season, North Carolina State in 2015 and Virginia Tech in 2018.
ODU spent $24.9 million to renovate and upgrade Foreman Field when the football program was reconstituted in 2009. That included the Ainslie Football Complex, parking garage and artificial-turf field.
Some of that area will be retained and converted to student housing and other support services. Some parts of the 77-year-old structure are likely to be demolished because of structural deficiencies and to make way for new construction.
ODU has undergone radical transformation since its last master plan, in 1995. School officials wanted to cement a vision for the next 20 years, in terms of facilities, support, academic consolidation and campus enhancement.
The plan calls for more than 1.2 million square feet of building space and nearly 4,600 student housing units. President John Broderick would like to accommodate more of the 7,000 students that live off-campus in surrounding neighborhoods.
A significant portion of the extra square footage will come from constructing and redeveloping taller buildings — as high as six stories. ODU lost a battle to acquire land adjacent to University Village when landowners challenged attempts to condemn the property, and the state Supreme Court ruled in their favor. That decision, as well as the concerns of surrounding neighborhoods, forced Harnage to seek ways to build up and not out.
The plan also includes a new 103,000-square-foot conference center next to the Lambert’s Point Golf Course, a new performing arts center in University Village and a larger facility to replace the Webb Center, which will be razed.
An additional 204,000 square feet of space will be built at ODU’s Virginia Beach campus. The plan envisions minimal growth in the student population, currently at more than 19,000 undergraduates and almost 25,000 students.Fairbank can be reached by phone at 757-247-4637.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun