The Collegian
Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Gameday Committee holds forum to discuss new stadium

The Gameday Committee, a group of campus leaders assigned to make plans for the opening of E. Claiborne Robins Stadium, held a forum on Tuesday to discuss its progress and answer questions from the community.

Steve Bisese, vice president for student development, opened the meeting and was joined by other members of the 22-person committee, which has grown from an initial group of four people when it began meeting during Feb. 2009. He said that the committee had been meeting about every two weeks during the last eight months to discuss plans for the new on campus venue.

"We're very excited about the stadium being on campus," Bisese said. "The unifying nature that it brings to five or six weekends each fall is going to be great for students. ... We're trying to make everyone's dreams a reality and also do those things that we have to do that maybe aren't as pleasant."

Bob Black, assistant director of athletics, took the floor following Bisese's opening remarks to discuss communication plans for Robins Stadium, specifically discussing a new Web site, RobinsStadium.com, that will go live during the summer.

"In the next couple of months, the Web site will become one of the most important parts of your experience at Robins Stadium," Black said. He projected an image of the Web site's design on the screen and discussed each tab featured on the main page. There will also be separate pages on the Web site dedicated to visitors, students and members of the local community, he said.

Following Black's presentation, Director of Ticket Operations and Sales Kevin Dwan discussed how ticketing would be handled in Robins Stadium.

Dwan said that faculty and staff ticket policies had not changed much from last season, as staff members will still be entitled to a 50 percent discount on season tickets and no discount for single game tickets. Richmond fans who have previously held season tickets have already begun renewing their plans for the coming season, and season tickets will be available for the general public on June 1. Single game tickets will become available for the public on August 1, Dwan said.

Dwan said the major changes in ticketing policies would impact the students.

"Obviously, we're going to be in a situation where we're going to be close to 100 percent capacity more often than not," he said. "We need to be able to see who's coming to games and how many students are coming to games."

The athletic department has still not decided whether student ticketing will be handled on a first-come, first-serve basis in the ticket office, or whether it will use an online ticketing software program that would allow students to reserve their tickets from their dorm rooms or apartments.

"Obviously, the simplest way to [use the software] is to do first-come, first-serve, but it also gives us to opportunity to do stuff like lotteries," Dwan said. "We've started talking to ticket software [companies] and hopefully in the next few weeks we'll get more concrete answers about which method we'll be using in Robins Stadium."

Bob Dillard, chief of police, followed Dwan and discussed how parking would be handled during home games. He showed three diagrams that depicted how traffic would flow in and out of campus and which lots would be designated for permit parking, general parking and special parking.

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Dillard said part of the plan to help with traffic at the new stadium was to add signage on I-95 directing visitors to use I-195 to get to campus, rather than I-64. This would bring most of the traffic to campus via River Road rather than Three Chopt Road, which would be advantageous because the main entrance to campus, at the intersection Three Chopt and Boatwright Drive, will be accessible only by those with parking permits, Dillard said.

Parking lots will open four hours prior to kick off, at which time all parking will be controlled by police and parking employees, so visitors and students will have to park where they are directed, even if they aren't attending the game, Dillard said.

As a part of the parking plan, students with X-lot passes will have to move their cars to the football practice field on Friday evenings before home games and return to their spots following the game, either on Saturday evening or Sunday, Dillard said.

Dillard also said that 50 police officers would be required to work on game days to make sure that parking and tailgating ran smoothly.

Alison Keller, associate director of student activities, followed Dillard's presentation and discussed plans for student tailgating and social events on game days.

There will be a designated student tailgating area located in the parking lot near Atlantic House and Pacific House where the old basketball hoops are located, which will be an unstructured area for students to hang out and eat before the games, Keller said.

Keller said that the basketball court area could be reserved by large student organizations that wanted to host an event on game days. The student area will be separate from any events that occurred at the Fraternity lodges because the fraternities will still have to abide by standard policies, preventing all students from free access to the lodges.

"The fraternities are going to have their own responsibilities," Keller said. "It's not going to be a back-and-forth free-for-all. It just can't be from a liability perspective."

Keller and Dillard said that there would be designated parking lots on campus that allowed drinking alcohol on game days, but that they were not yet sure if students over the age of 21 would be allowed to drink in the student area.

"On campus will be handled much like what you're used to at the downtown stadium," Dillard said. "You can't go to an area on campus and drink on a football Saturday just because it's a football Saturday. You'll still have to follow the standard campus rules and regulations. ... There will be tailgating all over campus, but it's not going to be wide-open drinking."

Keller also said that she has been working with Bernard Little, the Richmond College area coordinator for the University Forest Apartments, to discuss plans for registered events at the apartments or dorm rooms during game days.

Based on current plans, students will likely be able to register parties in the apartments during game days for a maximum of four hours and only two apartments on each block will be allowed to register, said Rachel Steinberg, a student representative on the committee. Students will also only be able to register either during the day or at night, not both, she said.

Many of the plans for the stadium have still yet to be finalized, and Bisese and Keller encouraged students and community members to continue to provide suggestions. Keller leads a group of student leaders who have helped plan for the new stadium, and invited others interested in giving their input to attend a meeting at noon on Friday, April 23. The location of the meeting is to be determined.

To build excitement for the new stadium, the Heilman Dining Center will host Robins Stadium Spirit Day from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on April 19.

Bisese said that the committee will continue to meet, brainstorm and present its ideas through December.

Contact staff writer Reilly Moore at reilly.moore@richmond.edu

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