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Lenoir-Rhyne fans packed Moretz Stadium for the Bears' homecoming game last season against Limestone in Hickory. 

The seating on the home side of Lenoir-Rhyne University’s football stadium will be demolished due to issues of structural integrity, according to a press release earlier this week from the university. The seating will be replaced with temporary bleachers for the 2019 season.

Lenoir-Rhyne followed up with a press release answering the most frequently asked questions regarding the situation:

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 that seating 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, typically 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 estimated cost of $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. The press box 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 in plenty of time before the first home football game on Sept. 7.

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.

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 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 impact their season.

What is the history of Moretz Stadium?

The Bears’ home football facility, originally opened in 1924, and was renamed in 1989 the Helen and Leonard Moretz Stadium, honoring two longtime Lenoir-Rhyne supporters. Moretz Stadium is the largest on-campus stadium in the South Atlantic Conference and is widely recognized as one of the finest small college football stadiums in the nation. 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 has a capacity of approximately 7,500, has hosted seven NCAA football playoff games in its history, including two from the memorable 2018 season, and three NCAA men’s lacrosse playoff games, including a national semifinal game in 2018.

Before 2011, Lenoir-Rhyne added a state-of-the-art Model 3680 Outdoor LED Football Scoreboard (built by Electro-Mech) and installed FieldTurf in 2015. The next turf installation was part of a $1.1 million dollar project which included a new drainage system and several other improvements.

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