Minium: With Opener vs. Virginia Tech Days Away, here’s a fan guide to SB Ballard Stadium

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By Harry Minium

NORFOLK, Virginia – The best advice I can give to the 22,000 fans who will attend Old Dominion’s opening football game on Friday against Virginia Tech is something you may have heard from your parents as a kid: get there early. .

And once you do, head to Kaufman Mall, a place where you can experience tailgating without having to get things out of your car, cook, and clean.

If you’re unfamiliar with Kaufman Mall, it’s several acres of open space that stretches from Hampton Boulevard to the Webb Student Center. It’s a short walk from the south end of the stadium at 49e Street.

There is a beer garden as well as food vendors, a giant screen TV that will show the best of college football, and a band that will play by the ODU Lion Fountain. There are also dozens of chairs to sit on.

Plus, there’s entertainment for your kids – there’s a plethora of bouncy houses and plenty of room for them to run around.

There will be a live band at every home game. This week it’s The Finns, the North Carolina-based rock and roll band who also mix a bit of country music into their performances.

A must-attend event for ODU fans – the football team is hosting their pre-game Monarch Walk from the Webb Center to SB Ballard Stadium at 4:45 p.m. It’s always a pretty awesome moment when the Monarchs emerge from the Webb Center, for the players, coaches and fans.

The monarchs enter the stadium at the south gate, where they all touch the head of an ODU lion before heading inside.

The band and cheerleaders also gather to perform at the fountain at the Kaufman Mall approximately 45 minutes before game time.

I advised arriving early as this game is being played on a Friday and there are often traffic jams on Hampton Boulevard on Friday afternoons.

Fortunately, ODU closes its campus at noon and opens all football parking lots at 3 p.m., four hours before the Hokies and Monarchs kick off. This means that all tailgate lots open four hours before the game, as usual.

There’s an event for Virginia Tech alumni at the Kaufman Mall, and I know we don’t need to say that you should treat our guests with courtesy and welcome them to our campus. So many of the tech alumni at Hampton Roads are also ODU fans.

After all, ODU was founded in 1930 as the Norfolk division of the College of William and Mary and VPI.

ODU and Tech fans have interacted nicely over the previous three games, with fans sharing food and drink in the tailgate lots. The hospitality between the two groups was amazing in two games at Blacksburg and four years ago at Norfolk.

Let’s do four in a row and count.

ODU and Tech play each of the next 10 seasons, counting Friday.

Here are some reminders and updates on what’s new at SB Ballard Stadium

PUBLIC CAR PARK

If you don’t have a parking pass, it’s best to head to one of the two parking lots on either side of the Chartway Arena, located on Hampton Boulevard between 45th and 43rd streets.

They are a short distance from the stadium – I park there and it’s a five minute walk to SB Ballard Stadium. Best of all, parking is free here.

There will be additional parking on a cleared lot in front of the new Health Sciences Building, which is under construction, adjacent to 43rd Street. Parking is also free.

I wouldn’t recommend parking in the Larchmont, Lamberts Point or Highland Park areas unless you want a parking ticket. Parking is not permitted in most of these neighborhoods unless you live there. Check the signs carefully if you choose to park there.

WILL CALL

Will call is located at the southeast gate adjacent to the Silver Lot. It will open around 3 p.m. The stadium gates will open at 5 p.m., half an hour earlier than usual.

CLEAR BAG POLICY

A reminder that ODU has a clear bag policy. You may bring a small bag, no more than 4.5 inches by 6.5 inches, and a wallet, but anything larger must be in a clear bag. And everything will be searched before entering the stadium.

The cheapest and easiest way to pack your things is to get a one gallon resealable clear bag from your kitchen and use it. The ODU bookstore also offers transparent bags and some of them are actually trendy.

Questions about our clear-bg policy? Refer to the Q&A section in the story below.

ODU CLEAR BAGS POLICY

WHAT’S UP

The general public will be allowed to buy beer and wine for the first time this fall. ODU has been cautious about allowing alcohol sales at sporting events, but after a successful trial at men’s and women’s basketball, the University is expanding sales to football games.

For reference, Scope and Harbor Park have allowed the sale of beer and wine for years. Virginia, Virginia Tech, and JMU do as well.

Mixed drinks are not permitted in the stadium, with the exception of premium seating areas, such as Priority Automotive Club or The Deck. And you cannot bring alcohol into the stadium – it must be purchased from vendors inside the stadium.

ODU installed cup holders in the 5,474 chair-back seats. The cup holders are oversized and will accommodate the large stadium cups in which soft drinks are served.

All 482 chair-back seats in the Cox Business Lodge Lounge the premium seating area in the south end area has been replaced. And as has been the case since 2009, all box seats are sold out.

You will also notice a new branding in the stadium. This is ODU’s first season in the Sun Belt Conference and all Conference USA signage and logos have been replaced.

TICKETS

There are a limited number of The Deck Premium Lounge tickets available for Virginia Tech. Located in the second-floor lobby on the west side (ODU bench side) of the stadium, fans can partake in an all-you-can-eat buffet with non-alcoholic beverages and cash bar and mingle in an area reserved for Deck patrons.

For information, contact Justin Ross at 757-683-3360 or [email protected]

Bridge ticket holders also have good seats in the stadium. But the Deck area on the lobby offers an unobstructed view of the pitch and the TowneBank scoreboard. I took a tour of The Deck recently and it’s a pretty cool place to watch a game.

While available, Deck tickets are $1,000 for the season, $350 for the Tech game, and $150 for each of ODU’s other five home games, including the Nov. 12 season finale vs. James Madison.

OTHER QUESTIONS?

Email me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @Harry_MiniumODU

SOME FOOTBALL STORIES FROM PRESEASON

The ODU and Virginia Tech coaching teams have a ton of connections

ODU season ticket sales are booming

ODU’s Kevin Reihner is one of the youngest and smartest coaches in the country

The ODU football team has adopted an adorable yellow lab

Sun Belt best place for ODU

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