Shenandoah University is proud to announce its newest campus facility will be named the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center.
Shenandoah University’s Board of Trustees on April 26 approved the naming of the 77,000-square-foot indoor athletic facility, which will serve the university’s 21 athletics teams, the entire university community and the local and regional communities.
One of the university’s most ardent supporters, James R. “Jimmy” Wilkins, Jr. is a member of the university’s board of trustees and co-chair of the Athletics & Events Center Steering Committee. Wilkins’ father, James R. Wilkins, Sr., was chairman of the College Project Committee which pushed for university’s move to Winchester in 1960, and served as chairman of the board of trustees for almost 30 years.
“Jimmy Wilkins and the entire Wilkins family have been steadfast supporters of Shenandoah University since the move to Winchester in 1960 – support that spans three generations over the course of more than five decades,” said President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D. “We are thrilled for the opportunity to honor Jimmy and his family in this way, especially considering tomorrow is Jimmy’s birthday.”
The final push of the public fundraising campaign for the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center is currently underway with the the primary focus on the $500,000 anonymous donor challenge to enable the university to name the center’s basketball court in memory of former Athletics Director and Head Men’s Basketball Coach Dave Dutton and his wife, Kathy Dutton. Donors can also donate a gift for the naming rights to a locker ($1,000) or a seat in the basketball and volleyball arena ($500).
Located next to Shentel Stadium, the student-first facility will benefit each of the university’s 480 student-athletes and vault Shenandoah into the top tier of indoor athletic facilities in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. The new facility will be the physical manifestation of Shenandoah Athletics’ “21 sports, one team” motto, offering both athletes and spectators an improved Hornets Athletics experience.
“The new Athletics and Events Center will stand as a home for me and my team,” said sophomore cross country and track & field team member Justin Mehrer. “The building will further ignite the passion and competitive drive within teams under its umbrella, which will be increasingly felt for years from the prospects and talent it will attract. We are so thankful to Mr. Wilkins and his very generous gift to the students of Shenandoah University.”
“The Athletics & Events Center is important to me because it gives my team the opportunity to have year-round locker rooms, three full courts, and high ceilings, which will enhance our volleyball experience and make games and practice more enjoyable,” said sophomore volleyball team member Caylin Harris. “It is also a great opportunity to have multiple sports practicing at once, which currently isn’t an option. I’m excited for this building to bring the teams and the community closer together, and we can’t thank Mr. Wilkins enough for his efforts to make this building a reality.”
The facility will also be the largest events center facility within at least a 60- to 70-mile radius of Winchester. Special attention to lighting, acoustics and sound was paid during the design process, in order to maximize the facility’s use as an events venue for the university and the community at large.
The facility is being constructed by Howard Shockey & Sons Inc. and was designed by Earl Swensson Associates (ESa) of Nashville, Tennessee. ESa also designed the university’s newest campus housing for upperclass students, The Village, and the university’s Health & Life Sciences Building, which opened in fall 2014.
The James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center by the numbers:
- 77,000-square foot building
- 50 to 55 percent complete, and progressing at a scheduled pace toward substantial completion in December 2017.
- The underslab electric, communications, and plumbing are all currently being installed.
- Steel roof trusses are 10 feet in depth; installation of the trusses was completed earlier this month. The roof decking was completed this week.
- Approximately 375,000 bricks will be installed on the outer walls of the Athletics & Events Center; an innovative brick robot is expected to be used on the east and west wall
- Each corner of the building sports a medallion weighing six tons and measuring 14 feet in diameter. Two feature the university’s athletics logo and two feature the university’s crest.
- Each individual wall panel for the Athletics & Events Center weighs 30 tons. There are 250 individual, precast pieces that make up the walls, medallions, etc., of the Athletics & Events Center.
- The ceiling in the arena from the floor to the bottom of the steel trusses will be 38 feet tall, and the approximate dimensions of the arena are 178 feet by 367 feet.
- From the outside, the height of the towers on each corner of the building is 60 feet.
- The surface parking created for the Athletics & Events center will provide an additional 287 parking spaces (263 standard, 17 handicap and seven bus parking spaces).
- The facility will include 63,000 square feet of multipurpose fieldhouse space designed for varsity competition and practice, with retractable seating for nearly 1,600.
- As a large events space, the facility will seat approximately 5,000 theatre-style or nearly 1,000 for a sit-down dinner.
- The facility includes a 200-meter, six-lane competition track with eight sprint lanes and throwing cages, sand pit and pole vaulting areas, as well as batting cages for baseball, softball and golf.
- The facility also includes home and away locker room facilities, a concession stand and a satellite athletic training area.
To learn more, visit su.edu/athletics-and-events-center.