Study shows structural integrity at issue in stadium that
opened in 1924; new seating coming for 2020 season
HICKORY – Lenoir-Rhyne University will renovate Moretz Stadium’s home side seating after an engineering study indicated issues with the structural integrity of those seats.
In a press release on Tuesday, school officials said they will demolish seating on the home side of the stadium and replace it with temporary bleachers for the 2019 season.
LRU’s football opener is Sept.7 against St. Augustine’s.
A more comprehensive design plan for stadium seating improvement was also approved by LRU’s board of trustees, and work on that will begin following this football season.
The Bears’ men’s and women’s lacrosse teams also play home matches in Moretz Stadium.
“The stadium is showing its age, and it’s critical that we preserve the integrity, safety and long-term viability in support of our student-athletes, community, and dedicated alumni,” LRU Director of Athletics Kim Pate said in the press release.
Moretz Stadium opened in 1924 and is named for Helen and Leonard Moretz. It’s the fourth-oldest stadium in continuous use in NCAA Division II and one of the oldest in the country.
The first priority of the renovation will include demolition of the current home side stands and is scheduled to be completed by the end of this month.
Aluminum temporary seating will be installed on the home side in time for the start of the football season. During the season, LRU officials will review plans and details for a more permanent solution to the home seating side, along with additional improvements that could be completed prior to the 2020 season.
LRU recently contracted with Taylor and Viola Structural Engineers of Hickory to conduct a comprehensive engineering study and review of the stadium. The study identified issues of structural integrity on the home side seating area that needed to be addressed immediately and LRU officials are following recommendations made in that study.
“As we celebrate our 100th year anniversary of football and our 10th year of men’s and women’s lacrosse, this circumstances presents a timely opportunity to build on the storied tradition of LR athletics Between the Bricks,” Pate said. “We remain committed to our traditions of tailgating and making the game-day experience a destination for our community and visitors.”
LRU will contract with a national company to install temporary bleachers with a minimum of 3,000 seats on the home side of the stadium. Bears Club reserved seating will continue to be offered to season ticket holders with anticipation of a few minor modifications to accommodate slight variations to the seating plan with the temporary bleacher layout.
For questions about any modifications or changes to the Bears Club seating, members can contact Aaron Bessey, director of the Bears Club, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (828) 328-7946.
The stadium, which as a capacity of approximately 7,500, has played host to seven NCAA football playoff games.
MORE ON THE STADIUM RENOVATION
(as released by LRU’s athletic department)
What is the recent renovation plan to Moretz Stadium?
Moretz Stadium, home to Lenoir-Rhyne University’s football and men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, will undergo renovation to improve the current structure. The University’s board of trustees approved a contract to demolish the seating on the home side of the stadium and replace with temporary bleachers for the 2019 season. Plans include installing permanent seating by fall 2020.
Why was an engineering study conducted?
Due to the age of the stadium and the recent visible deterioration of the concrete, Lenoir-Rhyne contracted with Taylor and Viola Structural Engineers of Hickory to conduct a comprehensive engineering study and review of the stadium. The study identified issues of structural integrity on the home side seating area that needed to be addressed immediately.
When will the renovation begin?
The first priority of the renovation will include demolition of the current home side stands and is scheduled to start as early as the week of July 8 and be completed by the end of July. Aluminum temporary seating will be installed on the home side in time for Lenoir-Rhyne’s first home game on Sept. 7, at 6 p.m. against St. Augustine’s.
Will the temporary seating affect the number of seats available for the season?
The temporary seating will reflect a similar layout and seating plan to accommodate Lenoir-Rhyne’s patron usage of students, alumni, and Bears Club members. The plan provides for a minimum of 3,000 seats. Bears Club reserved seating will continue to be offered to season ticket holders with anticipation of a few minor modifications to accommodate slight variations. We anticipate losing a small percentage of seating in consideration of adding ADA seating opportunities as well reducing the seating down to goal line to goal line vs. end zone to end zone. We will have plenty of seating to accommodate our largest crowds experienced during homecoming and NCAA Playoff games.
What is the estimated cost for the capital project?
The cost for the demolition is approximately $360,000. This will involve associated work including, but not limited to, site work, electrical, water, and temporary access road. Once the demolition work is complete, contractors will install temporary seating, at an estimate between $200,000 to $225,000, on the home side for the upcoming football season.
Does the press box require renovation?
No. The press box is structurally safe and is a separate structure and no immediate work is required on it
How will this renovation affect the 2019 football season?
We do not anticipate the renovation will have any impact on the upcoming season. The construction will not impact the team’s fall camp as the field will be accessible for practice, etc. The temporary stands will replace the current seating and the University has been assured this work can be completed in July and August before classes begin and plenty of time before the first home football game on September 7th
Is any work needed on the visitor side seating?
The seating on the visitor side and in the end zone do not share the same issues as the home side seating. Although there will be need for future repairs due to settling, there are no structural issues impacting either the visitor seating or the end zone seating. The home side comprises more than 4,000 seats and more than 65 percent of Moretz Stadium’s seating capacity.
What are the plans to construct permanent seating?
Following the fall football season, Lenoir-Rhyne University will prepare for a more comprehensive design plan for stadium seating. The ideal plan will have these additional improvements completed before the 2020 season.
Will construction affect the section reserved for tailgating?
There should be no impact on the Bears Club tailgating area since none of the heavy equipment will need to access the stadium as a temporary road will be installed next to the open end zone adjacent to the President’s house.
Would inclement weather impact the proposed timeline?
With any construction project, inclement weather is always a factor and could slow down the timeline. We have a significant time buffer built in to absorb any potential delays to ensure adequate time for the install.
How will the ongoing construction impact home lacrosse games?
The construction should not impact home lacrosse games given the temporary bleachers will be removed prior to the start of the season and in the sport of Lacrosse, the home side seating is closed to the public (standard practice). The timing to install permanent bleachers will be scheduled around lacrosse season, so that it doesn’t have impact their season.
— Reported by LRU Sports Information