Minium: Five Reasons you Should be in S.B. Ballard Stadium When ODU Hosts Texas-San Antonio on Saturday
By ODU Athletics
By Harry Minium
If you haven’t been to an Old Dominion football game in a while or haven’t seen the $67.5 million newly renovated S.B. Ballard Stadium, here are five reasons why it will be worth your while to attend when ODU hosts Texas-San Antonio Saturday at 2 p.m.
1. It will be freshman quarterback Hayden Wolff’s first game at Kornblau Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium.
Wolff had an impressive debut last Saturday at Florida International, when he completed 19 of 35 passes for 169 yards, and led the Monarchs on a three-play, 76-yard touchdown drive late in the game. ODU lost, but his performance gave the Monarchs a bit of momentum.
That he played well in his first college football game does not surprise anyone who knows his background or has seen him in practice. Wolff played at the highest level at Venice (Fla.) High, a perennial national top 25 team that went to the Florida state semifinals last season.
He was tagged as a sophomore as a big-time recruit and when he committed to ODU in June of 2018, it was a huge win for quarterbacks coach Ron Whitcomb. He picked ODU over Kentucky. Georgia made a late run at him, as did UK, but he turned them both down.
Wolff will play in four games this season, which under NCAA rules allows him to redshirt. He will be a redshirt freshman with four years of eligibility next season.
He reminds me a little of Taylor Heinicke, ODU’s all-time best QB. He’s smart, plays with self-confidence and even looks a little like Taylor (although he's four inches taller).
He’s not yet in the same class with Taylor, David Washington or Thomas DeMarco. But he's got a ton of promise.
Many of you were there when Heinicke played in his first game against UMass in 2011.
Be there to see Wolff’s home debut.
2. ODU is offering a $25 ticket deal that includes a meal, a souvenir cup and a discount on merchandise.
Generally, single-game sidelines tickets cost $40 or $50 per game to ODU games. In an effort to entice fans to come give S.B. Ballard Stadium a look, ODU is offering discounted tickets at $25 apiece.
For your $25 you will receive a ticket on the sideline as well as a meal voucher good for a hamburger, cheeseburger, crabcake, shrimp, hot dog chicken finger or BBQ sandwich basket.
Go for the crab cakes or shrimp (which are available only on the East Side). I’ve even them both and they’re pretty special. They are air fried, meaning they’re a lot better for you than your typical fried food.
If you use your food voucher, you’ll also receive a souvenir cup that commemorates the first season in the new stadium. You’ll also get a ten percent discount on merchandise – ODU has two bookstore outlets at S.B. Ballard Stadium. This voucher must be purchased in advance.
The price is $100 for a family of four. With meals included, that’s about as good as deal as you’ll get to any sports event.
Mike Hermann, senior associate athletic director for external operations, crafted the $25 package deal.
“We want our fans to know that our football games are family friendly,” he said, adding that ODU will be offering more incentives to encourage families to attend next season.
3. The Monarchs are favorites to win for the first time since their opener.
ODU hasn’t tasted victory since the Monarchs rallied to defeat Norfolk State, 24-21, on Aug. 31. The longest losing streak in ODU history will be 70 days old on Saturday.
ODU has lost eight in a row, and it would be an uplifting spectacle to see the Monarchs win again.
And I think they will. ODU is a 3 1/2-point favorite in spite of its 1-8 record.
UTSA (3-5 overall, 2-2 Conference USA) is in rebuilding mode. The Roadrunners have beaten crosstown rival Incarnate Word, an FCS team that is 5-4, as well as Rice and UTEP, which combined have won one of 17 games.
UTSA quarterback Lowell Narcisse injured his non-throwing hand last week in a 45-14 loss at Texas A&M (in which the Roadrunners played very well for a half). It isn’t known whether he will play against ODU, but he was the second-team quarterback when the season began. He had replaced starter Frank Harris earlier this season after Harris went down with a season-ending shoulder injury.
If Narcisse can't play, redshirt freshman Jordan Weeks, who started three games late last season, will start.
ODU, meanwhile, will have several players who will return from injuries, including center Isaac Weaver, the team’s best offensive lineman, and Blake Watson, the redshirt freshman who is one of the best kickoff returners in Conference USA.
It should be a close, competitive game.
4. There will be pomp and circumstance as ODU Celebrates NATO’s 70th anniversary.
Didn’t it give you goosebumps when you saw parachutists hit the 50-yard line in the first game ever at the renovated S.B. Ballard Stadium?
Parachutists will again drop onto the field as ODU holds its annual Military Appreciation Game and helps NATO salute its 70th anniversary all over the Veteran’s Day weekend.
Why NATO? Because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which has kept relative peace in Europe since the end of World War II, has its North American command in Norfolk.
Known as the Supreme Allied Command Transformation Headquarters, the command is located about two miles north of ODU on Terminal Boulevard. More than 600 people work there, many from counties such as Germany, France, Great Britain, Greece, Turkey and Poland.
I go to Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Norfolk's Ocean View, not far from NATO or Norfolk's Naval Bases, and we have dozens of parishioners from France who work for NATO.
NATO's North American headquarters in Norfolk.
Hundreds of NATO employees are expected to attend and their leadership will be recognized during the first half. Commanding officer the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Andre Lanata will be recognized on the field with ODU President John R. Broderick in the first quarter.
Halftime will have a military theme and will end with the ODU Band playing the NATO hymn, with all 29 NATO flags displayed on the field.
5. Speaking of the military, did you know you can get free tickets to all ODU games if you are active or a retired member of the military?
ODU is a military town – Norfolk is home to the world’s largest Naval Base – and thousands of students here are vets or still on active duty, so athletic administrators acknowledge the sacrifice so many of you have made with free tickets.
Seats are available for ODU’s last two football games. You can receive up to four tickets for every ODU athletic event. Members of all of the Armed Forces, and their families, are eligible for tickets. So far, 368 discounted tickets for the military have been requested for the UTSA game. Come join your comrades in arms Saturday afternoon.
Keep in mind that you must order tickets IN ADVANCE, and that you need a military ID. Tickets can be picked up either at Chartway Arena or at the S.B. Ballard Stadium will call.
For more information, contact the ODU Marketing office at 757-683-5444 or the Chartway Arena Box Office at 757-683-4444.
Contact Minium: email@example.com