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Part 3 of Counting Down to Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium's Opening Night

Harry Minium

Without President John R. Broderick, Old Dominion University surely wouldn't be opening a reconstructed football stadium in less than two weeks. He helped start ODU's football program and made the decisions to move the University to the Football Bowl Subdivision and to build a replacement for Foreman Field.

Moreover, without high-profile contributions from people such as Greg DuBois, ODU's vice president for administration and finance, and contractor Stephen Ballard, the stadium would also not be opening.

Yet there were also hundreds of people behind the scenes, including architects, bricklayers, inspectors, interior designers, painters, welders, plumbers, accountants, electricians, attorneys and fundraisers, who also played indispensable roles.

Call them the unsung heroes of the new Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium.

A three-year process of designing, planning and executing a complicated, time-sensitive plan to essentially tear down an old stadium and build nearly 16,000 new seats in nine months culminates Aug. 31 when ODU hosts Norfolk State at 7 p.m.

David Robichaud, perhaps more than anyone among these unsung heroes, was in a unique place to watch the symphony of sorts that occurred when hundreds combined their efforts.

Robichaud is ODU's director of design and construction. He has essentially worked at ODU for nearly two decades, although half that time he was a consultant because he wanted to spend time raising his three sons.

He supervised the building of the Ted Constant Center - now known as Chartway Arena at the Constant Center - as well as construction of the University Village, residence halls and athletic facilities. He also oversaw projects at the University of Virginia and Wake Forest University.

Three years ago, he was placed in charge of renovating Ballard Stadium.

"This is the toughest project I've ever done," Robichaud said. "The Ted was tough, but I can't imagine any project being more difficult than this one."

Related story; students will benefit most from new stadium

State funds could not be used, so keeping the project on budget was a primary concern. ODU is the least expensive of any doctoral university in Virginia, and President Broderick is determined to keep tuition as affordable as possible.

There was also an emphasis a tight time frame - it had to be completed in nine months.

"Everyone stepped up and did their parts in a timely manner," Robichaud said. "It was a thing of beauty to see this come together."

Few know of the contributions of Harry Smithson, assistant director of procurement services, who negotiated a contract for a maximum price that S.B. Ballard Construction could charge ODU.

Nor do many know of Dwayne Young, the procurement manager for construction, who wrote state contracts for testing, inspections and other services which weren't a part of the contract with Ballard.

Rusty Waterfield had perhaps the most diverse role in the stadium process. As ODU's associate vice president for university services and chief information officer, his group of IT experts were responsible for building out technology infrastructure to support many stadium operations.

Dwayne Smith, assistant director for classroom central led the design and implementation of the 93-speaker audio system, the new Townebank video system with ribbon boards, and the audio/video required for clock management and instant replay. Rick Lovelace, assistant director of converged technologies along with Anthony Redifer, senior design engineer, designed and oversaw the installation of 21 miles of copper cable and 145 miles of fiber.

The cable infrastructure supports a network with 680 connections designed by Tihomir Hristov, manager of network engineering and design and his team of network engineers to support the audio/video system, point of sale devices, security systems, ticket systems, and many other stadium operations.

Who knew that building a stadium could be this complicated?

Waterfield was also the liaison with neighborhoods surrounding ODU, giving several presentations to civic leagues and fielding calls and emails from any residents with concerns.

"So many people contributed to this project," Waterfield said. "But Dave Robichaud deserves special praise. He's been on top of this from the start."

Robichaud said that "without the contributions of so many people, we would not have gotten this done." Robichaud relied heavily on Willie Spencer and Tom O'Bryan from his team. Spencer, senior project manager, was instrumental to the project overseeing budget, schedule, and coordination between design and construction teams. O'Bryan, ODU construction state inspector, was on the job site to inspect all aspects of construction on a daily basis.

Robichaud said that "without the contributions of so many people, we would not have gotten this done.

"Other schools are going to want to come here and see what we did. It's a beautiful stadium. Their jaws will drop when they hear we built this for just $67.5 million."

A list of others who played roles behind the scenes:

Ted Alexander, ODU senior associate athletic director

The popular, long-time radio voice of ODU football and basketball, Alexander has also supervised public relations and marketing for athletics. Provided key input into what was needed in the way of facilities for broadcasters and the media.

Alison Allred, interior designer, Moseley Architects

An interior designer with Moseley architects who worked with the University on finishes for premium seating. Met with donors and others ensure that furniture and other finishes were appropriate.

Eric Bohannon, ODU associate director of athletic communications

Bohannon handles media relations for football, and also sailing and swimming, and maintains ODU's athletic Web site (odusports.com). He was responsible for providing stadium designers input on media and broadcast facility needs. The stadium's new press box as among the finest in the country.

Ken Brown, ODU deputy athletic director

Second only to athletic director Wood Selig in ODU's athletics department, Brown handles all athletic budgetary issues. Played a key role in determining what ODU could and could not afford in the new stadium while also focusing on upgrading fan amenities.

Dr. Jason Chandler, ODU associate athletic director of revenue generation and marketing

Chandler is in charge of marketing, promotions, game atmosphere and social media for all ODU athletic teams. He handled the same responsibilties for the new stadium. Disseminated graphics, videos and advertisements to local media in order to promote ticket sales. Attended festivals and other community events and hosted a successful media event on Aug. 14 at the stadium.

Carolyn Cooper Crutchfield, ODU assistant AD marketing, community relations

"Coop," as she is known by friends, works closely with Chandler and has promoted stadium ticket sales both online and in face to face events. Handles game promotions for many athletic events and also attended festivals, Tides games and other events to promote the stadium face to face. Recently named senior woman administrator, making her the key contact in athletics for Title IX.

Courtney Doyle, Norfolk City Councilwoman

In part because the University and the surrounding neighborhoods of Lamberts Point, Larchmont and Highland Park are in her ward, she took an early interest in the effect the stadium would have on its neighbors. Acted as a liaison between the neighborhoods and city government with ODU during design, demolition and construction of the stadium.

Matt Drexler, director of events, Spectra Venue Management

Drexler coordinates the game day operation for Kaufman Mall and other events surrounding football games. Was involved in planning those events at the new stadium as well as planning ticketing, security and other services at the stadium.

Dale Feltes, ODU director emeritus, design and construction

A retired Navy Supply Corps captain, with 24 years of active duty in sea-going and shore billets, he oversaw selection of the Moseley and S.B. Ballard to design and construct the stadium. Feltes oversaw demolition of the old Foreman Field and commencement of the new stadium construction.

Rick French, ODU associate athletic director for operations

French was part of the design team. He oversees planning and coordination of all athletic events and for scheduling at all athletic facilities. Played a key role in determining game-day needs during design and worked with architects and Ballard employees through construction. Also took officials on dozens stadium tours.

Mike Fryling, GM of Spectra Venue Management

Fryling and his staff will handle game-day operations at the stadium and had a lot of input into the design of the stadium in order to make operations work once the season begins. He also worked on security plans and on planning infrastructure needs for ticketing and security.

Joe Garvey, ODU public relations assistant

Came to ODU a year ago with more than 30 years of newspaper editing experince. Was editor of The Virginian-Pilot sport desk for decades. Editied and wrote headlines dozens of stadium stories appearing both on ODU's academic and athletic Web sites.

Giovanna Genard, ODU assistant VP for strategic communication and marketing

Genard is in charge of all public relations and marketing at ODU and is also in charge of PR and marketing for the new stadium. Oversaw efforts in strategic communications and marketing to promote the stadium. Also served on a key stadium committee through the project.

Jay Haeseker, ODAF director of premium seating

As his title suggests, he was in charge of selling new premium seating, including the 388 seats in the new Priority Automotive Club and retaining existing clients. Helped raised $4 million for the stadium through the Priority Club. Also helped sell season tickets and with fundraising.

Rhonda Harris, ODU assistant vice president for public safety

As head of the ODU Police, Harris had input on design and construction of the stadium from a security standpoint. Also played a key role in setting up a security plan, including a new clear-bag policy.

Etta Henry, director of procurement services for ODU

She worked behind the scenes to negotiate the final contract with architects and also negotiated contracts for furniture and other stadium finishes. She ensured that enough staff was on hand to meet construction needs.

Larry Hogge, operations director for Monarch Dining

Was engaged with both design and construction of all seven concession stands and ensured that designs of all the stands and equipment installed there adhere to health codes.

Jeffrey Hyder, vice president of Moseley Architects

Was the primary designer of the stadium, including complete design oversight both before and during construction. Also played a role in studies done by Populous Architects. Has worked on many projects at ODU.

Todd Johnson, ODU associate vice president for auxiliary services

Oversees all food services for the University with Aramark. He purchased food trucks that will help with concessions at football games and will be on campus during the first semester.

Tim Kovacs, ODU director of football operations

Handles all logistics for the football program, from making travel arrangements to planning preseason training camp. An ODU alumnus, Kovacs helped ensure design of the stadium met the football team's needs and worked on logistics for coaches, and players and their families in game-day operations.

Nicole Kiger, ODU director of leadership & student involvement

Worked on initiatives to help improve student attendance for ODU football games, including moving student seats to the sidelines and promotions designed to help make games more entertaining for students.

Karen Meier, ODU associate vice president for community engagement

Meier and her staff communicated with surrounding neighborhoods, including Larchmont, Lamberts Point and Highland Park, before stadium construdtion began. All three civic leagues played a part in ODU's final home game at Foreman Field against VMI. She also helped in planning game promotions and scheduling events for the home opener against Norfolk State.

Tina Price, ODU associate AD for creative and video services

Price worked with vendors, architects, donors and sponsors on the signage for the stadium. Also worked on the design for an area paying tribute to Foreman Field and design of the TowneBank video board. Worked with IT on infrastructure needs for video, communications and ESPN+ streaming needs.

Rich Potter, Aaron Bond, Neftali Lopez, project superintendents, S.B. Ballard

Were steady workhorses during construction who are described by ODU officials as the glue that kept construction going. They have been in charge of stadium safety and quality control as well as monitoring subcontractors and the delivery of materials. They have been on site nearly every day of construction.

Isaiah Lucas, president, ODU Student Government

Served on a committee that helped determine where students would sit and what kind of special events would be held for them. The SGA will help sponsor events at the stadium's first game.

Janet McLaughlin, resident district manager of Aramark and Monarch Dining

Working with her staff, helped finalize the concessions menu for ODU football games, which is expected to offer of the most diverse choices of foods at a college football stadium. She was also a part of design and construction to ensure concession stands were designed and built correctly.

Charlie Nabhan, vice president, Engineering and Testing Services

Did all the testing on the integrity of concrete to make sure it was strong enough and inspected rebar before concrete was poured. Helped keep the contract on time by often showing up with an hour's notice to do inspections.

Ellen Neufeldt, former ODU vice president for student engagement and enrollment services

Neufeldt represented SEES during the planning and early construction phases of the stadium. Provided input on where students would sit and what entertainment options would be offered to them. She left ODU in July to become president of California State University in San Marcos.

Mike O'Brien, general manager, ODU Sports Properties

Came to ODU in 2018 with a sterling resume that included stints in negotiating corporate partnerships both with Madison Square Garden and the Washington Redskins. He heads the exclusive marketing and multimedia rights partner of ODU athletics and was involved in naming rights and corporate partnerships in the new stadium.

Ryan Parrish, ODU assistant athletic director for ticket operations

Handles ticketing for all sports. Was responsible for handling logistics in re-seating every seat at the new stadium. Was on hand every day for a month during the re-seating process.

Mark Payne, vice president, S.B. Ballard Construction

Was a major player during preconstruction, when he worked quickly to put together a plan that allowed stadium construction to start on time. He helped ODU to determine what could be cut from the project to stay on budget.

Darrell Polokonis, VP for operations, S.B. Ballard Construction

Has been with Ballard Construction for 35 years. He is a project manager who ensured that materials arrived on time and that subcontractors were scheduled so that they did not interfere with each other.

Patrick Ramirez, project manager, Moseley Architects

Was the principal design architect for the project, who was involved in the initial design phase and has continued to work with on the stadium throughout construction.

Bill Ratliff, senior associate at Moseley Architects

His role was to overcome any design road blocks in a timely manner. When a modification of the design was needed to keep construction going, Ratliff commanded a team that quickly made those changes.

Scott Robinson, architect, associate principal, Populous Architects

Helped head the original study by Populous that determined what ODU fans most wanted in a stadium. Was part of another study that determined Foreman Field could not be renovated. He was also part of the original stadium design team.

Chris Schaefer, ODAF director of athletic development

Schaefer, who recently became a father, oversees ODAF's annual fund and assists with fundraising for all sports. He sold hundreds of commemorative bricks installed at the entrances to the stadium. He also helped sell tickets and raise money for the stadium.

Scott Silsdorf, ODU director of transportation and parking services

Helped formulate parking plans to accommodate larger crowds in the new stadium in on-campus parking lots. Also worked to design plans to move people from parking lots to the stadium.

Jean Kennedy-Sleeman, University architect

She ensured the design of the exterior of the building complied with Old Dominion University standards and that all buildings contain design standards used in all ODU buildings. She played a significant role during all phases of design.

Greg Smith, ODU assistant director of facilities and events

Manages construction of new athletic facilities and oversees event management for 18 sports. Was involved in many aspects of the stadium, including ribbon boards and video board. Was in charge of installing new artificial turf at the stadium and practice fields and both were done early and on budget.

Garrett Shelton, captain, ODU Police

Worked with police chief Rhonda Harris and other law enforcement agencies to formulate security plans for the new stadium, including ongoing inspections of the stadium and implementation of a clear-bag policy.

Don Stansberry, interim vice president, student engagement and enrollment services

Represented SEES and ODU students in final stages of planning for the stadium. Worked with SGA leaders to formulate seating plans as well as entertainment options and the implementation of some new traditions for students.

Lloyd Thomas, project manager for S.B. Ballard Construction

Has worked on the stadium project from the start of construction and will until completion. He scheduled and managed subcontractors for all parts of stadium construction.

T.J. Thomas, TJ MS, DBIA, LEED Green Associate S.B. Ballard

Assisted Darryl Polokonos on site management of employees and subcontractors. Helped ensure that construction was completed on time and on budget. Was especially involved in the early stages of construction when utilities were installed.

Dr. Alexander R. Treviño, Lecturer ODU F. Ludwig Diehn School of Music

Treviño came to ODU in 2007 and helped form the University's first marching band. As band director, he was on the stadium design committee and was primarily there to provide input on the needs of the band in the new stadium.

Drew Turner, former ODAF associate athletic director for development

Helped ODU raise $10 million for the stadium and also worked on sales of premium suites. Before he left ODU earlier this summer, played a key role in persuading alumnus Barry Kornblau to donate $3 million to the stadium.

Bobby Wilder, ODU football coach

Wilder was hired in 2007 to build a football program from scratch, and was overwhelmingly successful. The Monarchs were 9-2 their first season, were nationally ranked two years later in FCS and won their first bowl game in 2016. Has been the face of ODU football from the start and has worked tirelessly to promote the University's football brand.

Greg Wooldridge, ODU fire prevention manager

Ensured that the stadium complied with all project state fire codes. Essentially, he was the eyes and ears for the state fire marshal. He did inspections prior to state fire marshal inspections to ensure there were no safety issues.

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