Lenoir-Rhyne University announced that Moretz Stadium, home to the football and men's and women's lacrosse teams, will undergo renovation to improve the safety and game-day experience. 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, with a more comprehensive design plan for stadium seating improvement to begin following the season.
The University 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 recommended that the University demolish the current home stands and use temporary seating for the upcoming season until new permanent seating can be installed.
"Moretz Stadium is a special venue and is home to one of the top game-day environments in all of NCAA Division II," said Kim Pate, director of athletics. "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."
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 July. Aluminum temporary seating will be installed on the home side in time for the start of the football season. During the season, the University 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.
"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," said Pate. "We remain committed to our traditions of tailgating and making the game-day experience a destination for our community and visitors."
The University 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 828-328-7946.
Moretz Stadium opened in 1924 and is named for Helen and Leonard Moretz. It is the fourth-oldest stadium in continuous use in NCAA Division II and one of the oldest in the country. In 1960, Moretz Stadium was the site for the NAIA national semifinal football game, which Lenoir-Rhyne won on its way to the only national championship in school history. Moretz Stadium was also home to a 1962 NAIA national semifinal game and a NCAA Division II semifinal game in 2013. The stadium, which as a capacity of approximately 7,500, has hosted seven NCAA football playoff games in its history, including two from the memorable 2018 season, as well as three NCAA men's lacrosse playoff games, including a national semifinal game in 2018.
The football home opener is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 7, at 6 p.m. against St. Augustine's.
(News Release From lrbears.com)