WINCHESTER — Shenandoah University’s new athletics complex is nameless no more. During a lunchtime ceremony Friday next to Goodson Chapel on SU’s main campus, officials announced the $24.5 million, 77,000-square-foot facility being built across from the university on the other side of Interstate 81 will be the James R. Wilkins Jr. Athletics and Events Center.
“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,” SU President Tracy Fitzsimmons said in a news release, alluding to Jimmy Wilkins’ father, who died in 1996, and his son, Richie Wilkins, who was all smiles as he watched Friday’s naming ceremony.
The still-under-construction complex was seen in the background as Wilkins thanked those in attendance Friday, particularly his family and the student athletes representing all 21 sports programs at the university. Located next to SU’s Shentel Stadium, the James R. Wilkins Jr. Athletics and Events Center will benefit each of the university’s 480 student athletes, as well as the university as a whole and its surrounding communities.
It will include 63,000 square feet of multipurpose field-house space designed for varsity competition and practice, with retractable seating for nearly 1,600; a 200-meter, six-lane competition track with eight sprint lanes; throwing cages; sand pit and pole vaulting areas; batting cages for baseball, softball and golf; home and away locker room facilities; a concession stand; and an athletic training area.
As a large events space, the facility will seat approximately 5,000 people theater-style or nearly 1,000 for a sit-down dinner. Its surface parking area will include 287 spaces — 263 standard, 17 handicap and seven bus parking spaces.
The facility is 50- to 55-percent complete and on track for a December opening, the release states. Winchester-based Howard Shockey & Sons Inc. is building the complex, which was designed by Earl Swensson Associates of Nashville, Tenn.
Source: Brian Brehm, Winchester Star