James Madison University officials have their sights set on a new convocation center, unveiling plans Monday for an 8,500-seat arena to be used mostly by the men’s and women’s basketball programs.
The new convocation center, with a cost of $88 million, also will be the site of public speakers, university convocation and graduation, high school graduation ceremonies, concerts, conventions, trade shows and family entertainment options.
However, it will be a while before any ground is broken. The university has established a fundraising goal of $12 million, but all support must be secured before construction on the project can begin. No formal construction timeline has been set but the university is actively fundraising.
“Unlike the Bridgeforth Stadium expansion, when we announced a specific construction start date, this project will not begin until we reach our fundraising goal,” said JMU Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne.
The new on-campus arena will be located at the corner of University Boulevard and Carrier Drive, adjacent to the East Campus Dining Hall and the Festival Conference and Student Center.
The basketball operations facility will be attached to the arena and will serve as the home of the men’s and women’s basketball programs. The operations facility will house first-class offices, locker rooms, training spaces, meeting rooms and a full-court practice facility with six shooting stations.
“This will be a game-changer for our program,” said women’s basketball coach Kenny Brooks. “We compete nationally for recruits and this project will help us secure those top-tier student-athletes.”
Men’s basketball coach Matt Brady echoed Brooks’ comments, stating, “College basketball is all about recruiting, and this facility will give us an edge in attracting the highest-caliber student-athletes to JMU. The training spaces will set a new industry standard and allow us to develop our student-athletes to reach their potential on and off the court.”
The arena will feature premium seating areas similar to Bridgeforth Stadium. Such features include a club level, private suites and hospitality spaces, along with a pre-event space for JMU students. The arena also will have cutting-edge technology, including a four-sided video scoreboard and ribbon board.