JMU expects venue to help it stand out from other schools
James Madison University’s basketball program will be playing on a different level in 2020 when it opens the Union Bank & Trust Center.
The 220,000-square-foot facility will seat 8,500 people for basketball games and close to 10,000 for commencement and other events. Groundbreaking is scheduled for next spring.
The facility now being used for JMU games and events is “outdated,” says Kevin Warner, JMU’s assistant athletics director for communications. “Other schools had amenities we didn’t have, and a lot of the operation logistics became difficult to manage.”
The school has been raising money for the new facility from major donors since 2015. “Now, we are going to open up the fundraising to a wider field for all levels to support the project,” Warner says.
The cost of the project was estimated at $88 million in 2015, but with the rising cost of construction JMU “anticipates the amount will be higher,” Warner says. He says Richmond-based Union Bank & Trust, a JMU athletics partner for more than 20 years, donated $2.25 million for naming rights for the facility for 10 years.
The venue will include courtside seating with a designated private hospitality area. A 1,500-space parking deck will be constructed adjacent to the facility.
The new center is expected to help the university stand out from other schools in the region. “I definitely think it’s a source of pride for everybody associated with JMU, but definitely for the athletes,” Warner says. “It legitimizes their experience and shines a positive light on the university.”
In addition to games and graduations, the venue also will host a wide variety of events such as concerts and trade shows. “We have had events that we have had to turn down over the years,” Warner says. “This will meet a lot of those needs.”
JMU hopes the center will become a destination for the Shenandoah Valley. “There is no venue like it in the area,” Warner says. “It can be a gathering place for the community to have concerts, trade shows, high school commencements, etc.”