by Ashley Speed, University Advancement
All Tribe football game-day operations will be housed in a new state-of-the-art press box at William & Mary’s Walter J. Zable Stadium through a leadership gift of $2 million from John L. Dawkins ’51 and June Lochenour Dawkins ’48.
Football coaches, reporters, game operations and television and radio partners will all work out of the 7,000-square-foot press box on game days. The new press box is part of the $27 million renovation of Zable Stadium, which is slated to be complete by the first home game on Sept. 17.
Starting with vastly improved sightlines and including specialized work spaces, the new press box offers a quantum leap forward in the department’s ability to host both internal and external game-day operations. Among the many features is pre-wired television camera positions, which will allow broadcast partners to ‘plug-and-play.’ Additionally, the media-relations staff will now be able to host visiting media in an area within the press box more than double the size of the old accommodations.
The press box will add to the modern look of Zable Stadium, which has been under construction since 2014. The previous press box was only 480 square feet, and football coaches, media and game operations all worked separately due to the small space.
William & Mary Athletics Director Terry Driscoll stressed the overall impact the gift is going to have immediately.
“While there are many parts of this renovation project that will be transformative, I don’t think any areas are going to be taking a bigger leap forward than our press box accommodations,” Driscoll said. "June and John’s generousity provides us with the ability to host all the crucial facets of the game-day operations in a single, highly functional space. There will be no better accommodations in the Football Championship Subdivision world for coaches and media.”
John Dawkins was a football player while attending William & Mary. The couple, who met at the university, said their time together at William & Mary was one of the happiest periods of their lives. The Dawkinses, who currently reside in Las Vegas, said they wanted to give back in an area where there was great need. Tribe football was and continues to be a part of their lives.
“The football team has always been important to me and I always wanted to give back to William & Mary,” John Dawkins said. “I knew the press box was in the works and this was the perfect way to help out.”
The Dawkinses’ generous gift supports For the Bold campaign priorities outlined by Tribe Athletics. As part of the campaign, Tribe Athletics seeks to raise $145 million to help advance excellence in the classroom and on the field. Priorities include scholarships, enhancing coaching support and improving buildings and facilities.
The renovation places Zable Stadium in line with the recommendations of the April 2015 Committee on Competitive Excellence Report, which states that high-quality facilities are necessary to provide Tribe athletes with the best environment for competitive success.
The renovation project includes a new entrance, upper deck, luxury suites, wider aisles, hand rails for greater safety, upgraded sound system and additional concession and retail locations.
Zable Stadium renovations have largely been funded through private donors, including June and John Dawkins. In 2012, a $10 million gift was given by the late Walter J. Zable ’37, LL.D. ’78, for whom the stadium is named.
“This generous gift by the Dawkinses is an example of a critical investment that bolsters William & Mary’s athletics success,” said Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76, campaign chair. “The press box will tremendously improve the Tribe game-day experience for current and future generations watching the game.”