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by Harry Minium

Minium: ODU's Baseball Series Against App State is the Last at Bud Metheny Stadium Before $20 Million Overhaul

ODU hosts App State for a three-game series this weekend. It will be Senior Day on Sunday, and that will be the last game to be played at Bud Metheny Stadium for 20 months.


NORFOLK, Va. – There is much at stake, and there will be much emotion, when the Old Dominion baseball team plays its final home series of the season this weekend against Appalachian State.

ODU and App State face off Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday at 3 and Sunday at 1. With six Sun Belt Conference games left to play, ODU (26-21 overall, 12-12 Sun Belt) is in seventh place, a game out of sixth. App State is fifth.

The Monarchs must finish sixth or higher to avoid a play-in game.

And there will also be pomp and circumstances. Nine Monarchs will receive their diplomas in what is always an emotional graduation ceremony prior to Saturday’s game.

Then, on Sunday, on Mother’s Day, ten seniors will gather with their families for Senior Day activities. The mothers of the seniors will throw out a ceremonial first pitch.

“This weekend, when we have Senior Day and our graduation ceremony, is always emotional,” head coach Chris Finwood said.

But this year there’s another reason for feelings of nostalgia. The three games will be the last played at Bud Metheny Stadium as we know it.

When the Monarchs next take the field on campus 20 months from now in February of 2026, the stadium will be known as the Bud Metheny Ballpark at the Ellmer Family Baseball Complex.

ODU will undertake a $20 million renovation of the stadium in part because of a generous, $2.5 million donation by entrepreneur Dennis Ellmer and his wife, Jan.

ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., asked the Ellmers to make the donation.

While it was a state-of-the-art facility when it opened in 1983, the stadium is out of date. The renovation will transform it into a modern, fan-friendly venue. Nearly all of the stadium’s 2,500 seats are on aluminum bleachers, and with baseball being played during the late winter and spring, that has discouraged fans from attending games.

“It’s cold sitting on those bleachers during the early part of our schedule,” Finwood said.

Most or all of those seats will be replaced with comfortable chair-back seats. There will also be a new press box, luxury suites and a club on ground level that will be situated directly behind home plate.

A new fan entrance will be built just outside the right field fence. Concessions facilities will be markedly updated. And a new locker room and players’ lounge will give ODU a baseball facility on par with many of its Sun Belt compatriots.

“It’s going to be a place that our players and fans can be proud of,” Finwood said. “And it’s going to help us draw more fans.”

The renovation was inspired by the 2021 ODU team, one that Finwood says “was probably the best team we’ve ever had.”

ODU was named a No. 1 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament regional but could not host because The Bud, as Metheny Stadium is known, did not meet NCAA standards.

The Monarchs were forced to play the NCAA Regional at South Carolina. ODU defeated Jacksonville and South Carolina before dropping two games to Virginia, including a 4-3, tenth-inning defeat in the championship game in which the Cavaliers won on a walk-off home run.

That the Monarchs had to play on the road as a No. 1 seed embarrassed ODU alumni, who rallied and began a fundraising campaign to renovate The Bud.

“Those guys who played on that team, they’re the ones who made this possible,” Finwood said. “We’re all standing on their shoulders.”

ODU has raised nearly $19 million. Naming opportunities remain inside the stadium. For information on making a donation, CLICK HERE.

When the stadium opened in 1983, it was the best in the state and one of the best on the East Coast.

It was named for Bud Metheny, the former New York Yankee and longtime ODU coach and athletic director. ODU had previously played most of its games at Larchmont Elementary School, which had a dirt infield and a chain-link fence around both the infield and outfield.

An aside – I once saw a Virginia Tech player who collided with the outfield fence running after a fly ball, and he had to go to the hospital to get stitches. At the time I was playing American Legion Baseball at Lakewood Park, which was then a better facility than ODU had.

“Virginia didn’t seem to care much about its baseball program back then and Virginia Tech was playing in a small stadium,” Finwood said. “ODU was ahead of its time. So was Mark Newman.

“He helped design the stadium and it was a first-class facility.”

Newman was then the ODU head coach and had much success right out of the gate. The Monarchs were 44-11 in 1983, the first season the stadium opened. ODU’s first game at The Bud was the 1983 home opener, a 7-2 decision over Millersville University, and but stadium construction was not finished until the 1984 season.

The Monarchs dedicated the stadium on April 25, 1984, with an 8-5 loss against Virginia Tech before a crowd of 2,125, the largest ever to see a game at The Bud.

The game was played at night, and at the time, few college teams had lights in their stadiums.

“That sort of set ODU apart,” Finwood said. “No one was playing night games at the time.”

Finwood has fond memories of the stadium from long before he became ODU’s head coach. He was a baseball star from Hampton High who played at VMI. He attended ODU baseball camps and later worked at many as a player. He also played in the stadium while he was at VMI.

The Bud has been the site of some memorable games, and I went straight to the source for highlights of some of those games – former ODU sports information director Carol Hudson, who knows more about Monarch sports history than any other living being.

ODU won the 1985 Sun Belt Tournament with an 11-10 victory over Western Kentucky at the Bud, in which Tom Bell drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning by beating out an infield single.

That game drew 1,512 fans on a Saturday night, the second-largest crowd for an ODU game at The Bud.

The victory garnered ODU its second consecutive NCAA Tournament bid.

The Monarchs also won the 1994 CAA title at the Bud, beating James Madison in the championship game. Eight of the nine ODU teams to compete in the NCAA Tournament played at the Bud, where ODU has won 911 games and lost 403.

There have been hundreds of high school baseball games, including state and regional tournaments, played there. During the summer, rarely does a night go by when the stadium isn’t being used.

ODU had hosted its share of Power 5 schools – in addition to Virginia and Virginia Tech, Clemson, Kentucky, Kansas State, North Carolina, Maryland and Penn State have all played at the Bud,.

ODU pitchers have tossed seven no-hitters. The first occurred on April 26, 1983, when Hal Walck tossed a complete game no-hitter in a 5-0 victory over UVa.

Geoff Edsell had a hand in two no-hitters, in 1992 and 1993, both as a starter and a reliever.

Finwood said perhaps his favorite game at the Bud came in 2022, when senior Brock Gagliardi hit a towering home run over the scoreboard in the bottom of the ninth on Senior Day to give ODU a 5-4 victory and a three-game sweep of Marshall. It was Gagliardi’s final at-bat at the Bud.

A year earlier, on May 2, 2021, Finwood was late for a Sunday game against Charlotte because he was attending the funeral of his wife, Annette.

That morning, just before the funeral, he got a text from pitcher Ryne Moore. “He texted me, ‘Hey Coach, don’t worry about it. We’ve got this.” Moore pitched a four-hit shutout and the Monarchs won, 10-0.

“That meant a lot to me,” Finwood said.

On April 9, 2004, ODU’s Justin Verlander squared off against VCU’s Justin Orenduff in a matchup of college baseball’s two best college prospects. Verlander won this round, striking out 16 over nine innings.

“Everyone was there, all of the big guys,” Verlander said of scouts in an interview with, which did a recent story on that game. “It was the most scouts I’d ever seen.”

The renovation will force ODU to become road warriors next season. ODU will host the mandatory five weekend Sun Belt home series at either Norfolk’s Harbor Park or War Memorial Stadium in Hampton. All other games will be on the road.

ODU will be able to practice at home, but having home games while the renovation is underway is impossible.

The Commonwealth Classic, in which Virginia usually plays ODU at Harbor Park, won’t be played next season, but UVA will play at ODU in April of 2026.

UVA coach Brian O’Connor offered to play at The Bud to help dedicate the new stadium.

“I appreciate that Virginia is coming to our place,” Fionwood said.

“We’ll pack the place for that game. We’ll be turning people away.”

ODU will play three games each at Auburn, Connecticut, Rutgers and Charlotte and in tournaments at Stetson and Georgia Tech. There will be road games against traditional rivals Virginia and East Carolina and several other state schools and a contest against Mississippi State in Biloxi, Mississippi.

With such a liberal mix of Power 5 teams, it will be one of the strongest schedules ODU has ever played.

 “It will be very challenging and not just because we’ll be playing so many games on the road,” Finwood said. “We’re also playing a very difficult schedule.

“Playing that many road games is going to be unique. When I write my book, that will be a chapter for sure, the challenges that it will involve. I feel like we’ll have a pretty good team, an older team, so they should be able to handle it.”

Regardless of the hardships of having to play a season on the road, Finwood said the stadium had to be renovated. “We’re 12th out of 14 right now in the Sun Belt when it comes to facilities,” he said.

“Marshall just passed us for sure. They did a great job with theirs. It’s beautiful.

“And ours will be too. I’m really excited about it. We had to get this one because without it, we would have had a tough time staying in the top half of this league. The facilities and the programs in the Sun Belt are so good.”

Finwood said Dr. Wood Selig, ODU’s director of athletics, has allowed him to have a lot of input into the stadium. The project is being overseen in athletics by Rick French, senior associate athletics director for operations.

“I was down at Coastal Carolina talking to (Coastal coach) Gary Gilmore about their stadium,” Finwood said. “It’s just gratifying for him. He says he comes out here every day and see this place and it’s such a source of pride.

“I hope I’ll feel the same way when we get into our new stadium.”

Minium is ODU's Senior Executive Writer for Athletics. Contact him at or follow him  on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.