We ran the first part of our MAILBAG a few weeks ago, and we were prepared to release this 2nd part but that whole ASUN move changed our plans. Without further ado, here’s the 2nd part of our MAILBAG. Thank you for all your questions and feel free to send over any others that you may have.
Do you think average attendance will rise with the expanded stadium especially for the upcoming season? How long do you think it will take until we are able to constantly fill it up (at least 80%). Do you expect the opening ODU game to be a sellout or close to it?
— Truitt Dolan (@Tru_Dat2) May 8, 2018
Since the previous stadium expansion prior to the 2010 football season, Liberty has had an average attendance of 16,617. That number is certain to rise in 2018 and beyond as the Flames move in to the FBS ranks bringing along with it increased opponent notoriety and a beautifully expanded Williams Stadium. In the Rocco-era prior to the expansion in 2010 (2006-2009), we averaged 13,349 in attendance. So, we increased average attendance by over 3,200 following the previous expansion. And that was without the FBS moniker. If we see the same increase over the next few years, we will be averaging 20,000 each season which is 80% of capacity at 25,000. So, yes, I expect to see an increase and I would expect us to average close to 20,000 fans per game as soon as 2018. Featured games such as ODU, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, etc., will be sellouts.
So far, we have 25,000 seating capacity. What is the seating capacity of this stadium going to be at the final level?
— Dolace Parker (@HomeGroundMan) May 8, 2018
Not sure what you mean by final level, but the capacity will be 25,000 with this current expansion. The previously announced expansions to the current 5-story tower and FOC, which are scheduled to begin immediately following the 2018 season, will not significantly alter capacity, and may not change it at all. Could the stadium be expanded beyond the 25,000 in the future? Certainly, but I wouldn’t expect anything in the immediate future.
After football stadium and Vines renovations and move to FBS is complete, what will Jerry’s/Ian McCaw’s next big move/project be?
— Did Liberty Win? (@didlibertywin) May 7, 2018
(NOTE: This was my answer prior to the ASUN move) Facility wise athletics should be just about up to date. Perhaps attention will begin to shift towards conference affiliation? Remaining Independent in football can work, just look at the schedules we’ve been able to put together. Still, getting the rest of the teams out of the Big South has to be on the agenda. Whether it’s an all-sports move or all-sports sans football remains to be seen.
1. How long do you think it will take us to join a conference for football and which conference do you think we will join?
2. Do you think our stadium looking empty for the next couple of years will drive students away even though it will be nicer?
— Cody Wiley (@cwiley622) May 7, 2018
- Addressed below in response to Mike.
- As mentioned above, the stadium won’t look empty for the next couple of years. Sure, there may be a game or two here and there where attendance is only 15,000 or even less, but the majority of games will see attendance at or near 20,000. Playing teams that the student body has actually heard of should also increase the student body’s interest level.
This is something that has been rumored for a decade or more. It does seem more realistic today than ever before. If you haven’t read the article discussing this idea from ODU’s point of view from Harry Minium, you should give it a read. In this article, Minium states Old Dominion should leave the Conference USA and join a new league that would include the Monarchs, Liberty, Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, JMU, UMass, UConn, Marshall, and Delaware. This could be done as a football only league, as Minium suggests, with Liberty maintaining all other sports in the ASUN. It would take a lot of work outside of their normal duties for the administration of each of these teams to discuss this idea and for it to actually come to fruition. It still seems like it’s not very likely and just a rumor, but who knows what the future holds.
As for other conferences, I certainly can’t speak for Jerry or Ian, but I think they are content being Independent for football for the time being. If our basketball program is able to be built into a strong mid-major program, the Atlantic 10 would be a great landing spot for the non-football sports. Outside of that, an all-sports move would leave us back where we were a couple years ago, albeit in a better position as an established FBS program, but begging the Sun Belt and/or Conference USA to let us in. Would you really rather be in the Sun Belt than where we are now? I wouldn’t. What about Conference USA? Old Dominion, perhaps our closest peer at this point, isn’t thrilled to be there now. The AAC would be a great landing spot, but the likelihood of them wanting us any time soon is slim to none.
Will the expanded F.O.C. connect to the indoor practice facility? Will the visiting locker room still be in the indoor practice facility or moved to the F.O.C.?
— Philip Minard (@_Philitup) May 7, 2018
In the drawings released last week, the expanded FOC will not connect to the indoor facility, but the edge of the building will be very close to it. I haven’t heard anything that leads me to believe the visiting locker room will be moved to the FOC. I’m expecting it to remain in the indoor facility.
Do you expect many freshman to play a lot this season or do you think most will redshirt or backup the FCS level players?
— Daniel Sloan (@DrsloanSloan) May 7, 2018
We won’t get a full feel for how the freshmen will integrate with the team until they begin to arrive on campus this summer, but we’ll give our best stab at it based on what we know about the prospects and team needs. The 2017 team was full of underclassmen and short on seniors. Only 9 guys on the season ending 2-deep have moved on from Liberty. There will be 8 newcomers from the JUCO ranks that will factor into the playing time discussion. Positions of need include both lines, running back, and tight end. 3-star running back Troy Henderson will have an opportunity to fight for playing time. The two highest rated recruits coming in are offensive lineman Henry Chibueze and defensive lineman Michael Austin Lewis. They will get their cracks during summer camp to prove they belong on the field. Tight end Mason Yost is another incoming true freshman that could get an opportunity, but JUCO transfer Chris Barrett will also be in the mix at tight end. Defensive back Hunter Goetz will also have an opportunity primarily because he enrolled in January and competed in spring ball.