Very few football experiences in the country can rival that of a fall Saturday at Alumni Memorial Field at Foster Stadium, the home of Keydets. It is a day filled with the pageantry and tradition of the nation's oldest state military school.
The VMI Corps of Cadets marches from barracks onto the field as The Regimental Band plays “Shenandoah”. The Corps welcomes the team onto the field, as "Little John," a ceremonial cannon, joins the cheers with a thundering boom. The Rats come out of the stands with every Keydet score, and do a pushup for every point on the VMI side of the scoreboard. The familiar strain of "The Spirit" plays to stir the hearts of the Keydet faithful.
Completed in 1962 at a cost of approximately $250,000 through funds allocated by the General Assembly of Virginia and the VMI Alumni Association, the stadium contains 54 rows, is 173 feet high (not including the press box) and has a seating capacity of 10,000. Fiberglass seats were installed in 1974 and refurbished in 1985.
A new Brute Bermuda grass playing surface was initially installed during the summer of 1998, and the crown on the field was elevated to improve drainage.
Improvements to the Stadium were a major focus in the “Vision 2039” initiative launched by VMI Superintendent General J.H. Binford Peay III. In an effort to continually upgrade the Institute’s athletic facilities, Alumni Memorial Field received a major facelift in 2006 thanks to the generous contributions of P. Wesley Foster, Jr. ‘56.
The $15 million facelift to the facility included new entranceways, new concourses and restrooms, upgraded seating and a new scoreboard. New game-day locker rooms were also created under the existing stands.
Those renovations changed the entire feel of VMI’s new football home, which was formally dedicated on September 29, 2006. The new stadium features an entrance plaza at the Cameron Hall corner complete with permanent ticket booths, restrooms, concessions, and donor recognition wall. Pillars representing the familiar VMI architecture will be spanned by wrought iron gates upon which the VMI logo is displayed. A new concourse under the home stands was created, and features several fan-friendly amenities including new concession stands and new restrooms.
Behind the stadium and connected to it is Clarkson-McKenna Hall, which was completed in 1988.
Clarkson-McKenna Hall consists of four levels with the main entrance to the building on the level of the concession area behind the stadium. The 100 level includes a lobby area and an elevator to take individuals to the upper three levels. On the 100 level are equipment and laundry rooms and all mechanical aspects of the building. Included in the Foster renovation project was an expansion of the Keydet locker room, the Luck Weight Room and the Athletic Training Facility.
The 200 level includes the football locker room and training room. A ramp entrance from the back of the building leads onto a new Sprinturf practice field.
Coaches' offices and meeting and film rooms comprise the 300 level. Access to the Superintendent's box is also on this level. This has both an enclosed area, the Ferebee Lounge, and an open air seating arrangement for viewing the football games.
The 400 level is the press box. The center section of the totally enclosed press area is for working press and statisticians. Five separate booths flanking this space are used by home and visiting radio crews, VMI and opponents' coaches, and the PA announcer plus scoreboard, message center, and clock operators. Television crews film from the top of the press box. There is also a lounge and dining area in the rear of the press box, which serves as a players' lounge during non-game days.
Another aspect of the Foster renovation project included the installation of a new, all-weather practice facility, located just behind Clarkson-McKenna Hall. Complete with a Sprinturf surface, lights and a scoreboard, this facility has enhanced the practice capabilities for several VMI teams.