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Dennis and Jan Ellmer Donate $2.5 Million to Renovate ODU’s Baseball Stadium « Information @ ODU

By Harry Minium

NORFOLK, Va. – One of many area’s most beneficiant philanthropic households has donated $2.5 million towards a deliberate $20 million renovation of Outdated Dominion College’s antiquated baseball stadium.

ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., introduced the reward from Dennis Ellmer and his spouse, Jan, throughout his State of the College handle Friday morning at Chartway Area.

The stadium can be generally known as the Ellmer Household Baseball Stadium.

Ellmer is founder, president and CEO of Precedence Automotive, which has greater than 20 dealerships in Virginia and surrounding states.

“Dennis has led Precedence Automotive to change into a thriving enterprise in a number of states,” President Hemphill stated throughout his speech. “However maybe what has outlined Dennis most is his love for others and his need to create change and alternative as far and broad as potential.”

The fundraising effort to renovate the stadium started the ultimate week of the 2021 baseball season. The Monarchs had completed their finest common season in 90 years with a 44-12 file and gained the Convention USA Match.

ODU was named one among 16 No. 1 seeds to the NCAA Match however was unable to host an NCAA regional as a result of its stadium didn’t meet minimal requirements. ODU performed on the College of South Carolina, shedding to Virginia in additional innings within the regional closing.

Outdated Dominion’s Bud Metheny Stadium has had solely minimal upgrades because it was inbuilt 1983. Motivated by the nationwide consideration paid to the stadium’s deficiencies, a gaggle of ODU benefactors quietly started elevating cash to renovate the power.

Shortly after the 2021 season was full, the College employed Populous, the nation’s premier sports activities baseball stadium consulting agency, to review how finest to rebuild the stadium. Populous really useful a $20 million makeover that would come with expanded and upgraded seating, luxurious suites, a membership space, new locker and assembly rooms, different upgraded facilities for gamers and followers and a brand new press field for championship occasions.

The renovation would protect many of the current stadium infrastructure and could be carried out in levels.


In his speech Friday, President Hemphill stated he started listening to complaints concerning the baseball stadium even earlier than he got here to Outdated Dominion in July of 2021. “In that second, I discovered concerning the ardour of Monarchs,” he stated.

“The baseball supporters and alumni went to work.”

And so did President Hemphill.

He closed a number of the dozen-plus main donations, together with Ellmer’s. They met at a restaurant in Chesapeake close to Ellmer’s company headquarters, and President Hemphill pitched the proposed donation. After conferring together with his spouse, Ellmer instructed President Hemphill they might make the reward.

“Brian was so excited once we stated sure,” Ellmer stated. “Clearly, he was very invested in getting this mission carried out.”

Ellmer stated he and his spouse made the reward due to the president’s management.

“Brian has carried out a lot spectacular work in his brief time at ODU,” Ellmer stated. “He is began so many nice initiatives, from committing the College to change into a pacesetter within the maritime trade to what I hope can be a merger between ODU and Jap Virginia Medical Faculty, one thing that might be so good for Hampton Roads.”

Head Baseball Coach Chris Finwood is ecstatic that his groups ultimately will play in an upgraded facility. “This by no means occurs with out President Hemphill,” Finwood stated.

“He got here right here and stated, ‘This must be fastened.’ He desires all our amenities to be first-class. And he realized in a short time that our baseball facility was less than par.”

Jena Virga, government director of the Outdated Dominion Athletic Basis, stated Ellmer’s donation has given a lift to the general fundraising effort.

“We have had nice discussions with different prospects,” she stated. “We hope to finish the marketing campaign within the close to future.”

Ellmer is a self-made millionaire who grew up in a working-class neighborhood within the Ocean View part of Norfolk. He was already an entrepreneur as a senior at Norview Excessive Faculty, delivering the morning and night newspapers and promoting auto components.

He attended ODU briefly earlier than starting what could be a profitable profession within the enterprise world. With the blessing of his spouse, he mortgaged his home, borrowed each dime he may and bought Jimmy Kline Chevrolet and Toyota in 1998.

It was an enormous danger, Ellmer stated. However the dealership thrived and led to the founding of Precedence Automotive, now a $2 billion a yr enterprise that employs almost 3,000 folks.

Ellmer has by no means forgotten his roots. The son of a Marine, he grew up with 4 siblings in a home with out air-con. He and his siblings usually slept on the entrance porch in the course of the summer season. In the event that they wished to go to a film, they needed to work to earn the cash.

Ellmer has raised and donated hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to native charities, particularly people who profit youngsters, in addition to to ODU athletic and educational scholarship applications.

He took over the Charity Bowl soccer sport almost a decade in the past and turned it right into a fundraising juggernaut now targeted round ODU’s spring soccer sport.

The Precedence Toyota Charity Bowl final spring raised almost $900,000 for native charities that profit younger folks. It has raised greater than $5 million over the past six years.

Ellmer has been a beneficiant supporter of ODU soccer for the reason that program was based in 2009. That is his first main donation to a different sport.

He gave $1.5 million three years in the past to create the Precedence Automotive Membership at ODU’s then newly renovated S.B. Ballard Stadium. Even earlier than the primary soccer sport in 2019, the membership generated greater than $four million in income for ODU.

“Through the years, ODU grew to become a college that I adopted,” he stated. “I actually bought excited once they introduced soccer again. That is actually when it began it for me.

“As I discovered extra concerning the College, I started to comprehend simply how vital the analysis being carried out right here is to Hampton Roads and the commonwealth and the way vital it’s for ODU to persevering with graduating younger folks in fields reminiscent of cybersecurity, the sciences and training.”

Dr. Wooden Selig, ODU’s director of athletics, stated, “Our baseball stadium mission wouldn’t occur if not for the beneficiant help of Dennis Ellmer and the whole Ellmer household. Dennis is so pushed to reach every thing he does. He desires any trigger that he helps and endorses to have the identical stage of success.

“Dennis additionally performed an integral function in our state-of-the-art soccer stadium. Recruits purchase with their eyes, and these two best-in-their-class venues will serve to draw high-level soccer and baseball recruits to ODU for generations.

“Dennis is leaving an distinctive legacy right here at ODU.”

Finwood stated the renovated stadium will place ODU to be aggressive within the Solar Belt Convention, one of many nation’s best baseball leagues. ODU joined the Solar Belt simply two months in the past.

A timeline for completion has but to be finalized. The mission should obtain state approval earlier than design can start.

Finwood famous that the success of the baseball crew in 2021 was the spark that lit the fundraising effort.

“There’s the outdated saying that we stand on the shoulders of giants,” he stated. “Future ODU baseball groups will stand on the shoulders of that crew.”

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