This spring and summer, the press box overlooking Foster Stadium has undergone its first major renovation and expansion since it was built in 1988.
The $1.7 million project will allow the Keydets to have instant replay capability, a Southern Conference requirement for the 2019 season and beyond. With this goal in mind, much of the work has focused on the roof, as that’s a prime spot for mounting video cameras. The roof of the renovated press box will contain built-in camera platforms accessible by a back stairwell.
“Previously, they set up the cameras on a combination of cinderblocks, tripods and other things, but now we’re going to have a dedicated platform that sets the cameras above the parapets,” explained Lt. Col. Daren Payne ’90, construction project manager.
The stairwell, he added, will allow camera crews to access the roof in a much safer manner – previously, they’d had to climb up a set of narrow drop-down stairs and through a trap door.
The addition of two goal-line cameras trained on the end zones will support instant replay capabilities as well. One of the cameras will be mounted on the concession stand in the east end zone, while the other will be mounted on a pole near the end zone closer to Cameron Hall.
Radio announcers, meanwhile, who once braved the elements to report from the roof will now have their own space inside the press box. An addition of 950 square feet will also allow more space for coaches, who oversee the game and make calls from their high vantage point.
“The number of coaches they put in there today is probably double what they put in there in 1995,” said Payne. The space was built for four people, he explained, but a typical game day will see six or seven individuals vying for a spot.
Visitors to the Ferebee Lounge, located the floor below the press box, will notice new paint, carpet, and furniture in that area – and workers preparing food for hungry fans will now have a dedicated place to do that.
“Previously, [workers] were doing the food prep in the hallways, and had their equipment out in the hall,” said Payne.
But even those who simply drive by on Main Street will notice changes to the press box when the scaffolding that’s currently encasing it is removed during the first week of August.
“It’s going to have the same kind of crenellations and stucco material and finish and color as the buildings directly across the street from it,” Payne commented. “It’s going to make a whole different look as you drive in.”
The newly renovated press box will be ready in time for the Keydets’ first home game against Mars Hill University, scheduled to take place Saturday, Sept. 7. Kick-off is set for 1:30 p.m.
Mary Price VMI Communications & Marketing