Teel Time: Game at ODU could take Virginia Tech to uncommonly small venue

During the last decade, Virginia Tech’s football program has played non-conference road games before crowds of 80,000-plus at Texas A&M, Nebraska and LSU. In 2014, the Hokies are contracted to play at Ohio State, where the Buckeyes routinely attract more than 100,000.

Conversely, barring dramatic stadium expansion, a 2018 contest at Old Dominion will take Tech to its smallest venue since Frank Beamer began coaching the Hokies in 1987.

As first reported by the Virginian-Pilot’s Harry Minium on Monday, the schools have agreed to a three-game series, with 2016 and ’19 dates in Blacksburg sandwiching the ’18 contest in Norfolk. The Monarchs drew capacity crowds of 20,068 for each of their eight home games this season, their last as in the Football Championship Subdivision as they transition to the Bowl Subdivision and Conference USA.

Expanding Ballard Stadium clearly is on ODU athletic director Wood Selig's to-do list, but the scope and timing of that growth are unknown.


"That is what will we spend the next six months trying to determine," he said via email Tuesday.

When ODU plays at Tech, the Monarchs will receive 4,000 tickets, 3,600 to sell and 400 comps, according to the contract Selig forwarded me. At ODU, Tech will receive 1,600 and 400.

Also per the contract, if Ballard's capacity is 25,000, the Hokies will receive 2,600 tickets to sell. If capacity is 30,000 or more, Tech will receive 3,600.

Tech will pay ODU $175,000 for the 2016 game, $375,000 for the '19 contest. In '18, the Monarchs will pay the Hokies $175,000.


The cost of canceling the series for either school is $300,000 per game.

Tech’s reason for playing at ODU is obvious. Possible small stadium notwithstanding, the game will bring the Hokies directly into their 757 recruiting wheelhouse.

Tech’s most recent appearance in Hampton Roads was the 1986 Oyster Bowl at Ballard, then known as Foreman Field, against Temple. The Owls won 29-13 before a crowd of 23,500 but later forfeited due to an ineligible player.

The smallest non-conference crowd and venue for the Hokies during the Beamer Era was a 1988 game at Cincinnati’s 28,000-seat Nippert Stadium. Announced attendance was 11,217.

That was among three sub-20,000 crowds for Tech in 1988. The Hokies' game at Southern Mississippi drew 17,135, their finale, at home against James Madison, 18,753.

In 1986, Tech played the University of Richmond at City Stadium, the Spiders' off-campus venue, where capacity was listed as 22,900.

Booking ODU completes Tech’s 2016 non-conference schedule. The Hokies also face Wisconsin, East Carolina and Liberty, all at home, giving them eight games at Lane Stadium for the first time since 2006. The other four home dates will be against ACC opponents to be determined by the conference’s new post-expansion schedule rotation.

Tech also has filled its non-conference dates for 2013 and ’14. The Hokies open with Alabama in the Georgia Dome next season, host Western Carolina and Marshall, and travel to East Carolina. In 2014, they host ECU, Western Michigan and William and Mary, in addition to the Ohio State road trip.

The 2015 schedule includes Ohio State and Furman at home, a trip to ECU and one vacancy. Might the Hokies be reserving that slot for Notre Dame, which is set to play five ACC teams annually as soon as possible?


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