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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU, City of Norfolk to rededicate Powhatan Field on Friday

By Harry Minium

Maury and Granby high schools have a long history of hosting home athletic events on Old Dominion's campus. And on Friday night, University and city officials will join to celebrate a deal that will extend that presence at least two more decades.

Athletic director Camden Wood Selig, Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander and School Superintendent Melinda Boone will participate in a ceremonial coin toss to officially rededicate Powhatan Field, a 2,800-seat stadium on ODU's campus.

The city paid for the stadium and owns it, but a 2004 agreement with the City of Norfolk called for ODU to eventually reclaim the land, which is adjacent to the University's L.R. Hill Sports Complex.

City officials approached ODU about extending the lease this year and asked the University to help renovate the stadium's worn-out turf field.

Recognizing its role as a good neighbor, ODU negotiated a new, 20-year lease. At the end of the lease in 2038, ODU will claim full ownership of the facility.

The University also agreed to pay half of the $900,000 cost of replacing the stadium's artificial turf.

The Maury and Granby football, field hockey and boys and girls soccer teams play home games at Powhatan Field. Norfolk middle school teams often use the field as well.

When the stadium isn't in use by Norfolk high schools, it will be used for ODU recreation sports teams. ODU also will resume holding football camps there next summer.

"The City of Norfolk is one of our key partners," said ODU President John R. Broderick. "We're pleased we were able to reach this agreement that will provide a place for high school athletes to compete on our campus for many years to come."

Alexander, an ODU graduate, said: "The reopening of Powhatan Field demonstrates a wonderful partnership between the City of Norfolk, Old Dominion University and Norfolk Public Schools."

Maury's field hockey team will play the first game on the new turf at 4 p.m. Friday, followed by a tailgate party. The coin toss occurs at 6:50, and at 7 the unbeaten Maury football team takes on Princess Anne High of Virginia Beach.

Powhatan Field has often been the site of regional soccer and field hockey games, although use of the facility declined as the playing turf deteriorated.

Maury began hosting its home football games and track meets at Foreman Field on the campus of what was then the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary when the stadium opened in 1936. Granby began playing games there when the school opened in 1939.

The Maury-Granby football rivalry, played on Thanksgiving Day for decades, often drew large crowds. The most famous Maury-Granby game occurred in 1966, when Granby won 14-7 before a sellout crowd estimated at more than 30,000.

The Comets then won a state championship the next weekend at Foreman Field, defeating Andrew Lewis of Salem.

Booker T. Washington High School's football and track teams also occasionally used Foreman Field for home events.

ODU began playing football in 2009 at the stadium, now known as Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium. It will undergo a $65 million renovation beginning in November that will greatly improve fan amenities.

In the late 1970s, Maury and Granby began playing football at the old Met Park and later Harbor Park.

Former Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim envisioned a new home field for Maury and Granby about 15 years ago that led to negotiations between the city and ODU.

The current site was picked as part of a land swap between the city and ODU that allowed the University to open a soccer practice field and for the city to build Lamberts Point Golf Course, which is adjacent to Powhatan Field and is used by ODU's golf teams.

"We are very excited that this coincides with the start of a new school year! Norfolk Public Schools has been most appreciative of the partnership with Old Dominion University and the City of Norfolk, which allows a number of our teams to play at Powhatan Field. We look forward to our students putting the new field to good use," said Boone.

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