Liberty University, which is undergoing a construction explosion on campus fueled by their highly-profitable online education programs, has announced the construction of a new multi-purpose arena on campus that will play home to their women’s volleyball as well as men’s and women’s basketball games. The new arena is part of a $1 billion campus rebuilding that includes new athletic, academic, and housing facilities for the university founded by famed televangelist Jerry Falwell in 1971. The new facility is expected to be open for the start of the 2020 basketball season, which means that the school’s volleyball teams may be able to begin play that fall, and if not the following fall of 2021.
The 125,000 square foot arena on the Lynchburg, Virginia campus will seat 4,000 (expandable to 4,500 with court seating). It will sit adjacent to the 10,000-seat Vines Center, and will be used for all events not expected to draw more than 4,000 students. Larger events will still be hosted in the Vines Center.
While basketball games will sometimes be played there too, the new facility will act as the operations center for the school’s volleyball program, including expanded locker rooms and office space for the team and support staff. The facility will also be used to run camps in the summer – where bleacher seating can be removed and expanded to 2 basketball courts or 3 volleyball courts.
“Liberty Arena will provide our teams with an intimate environment and tremendous home court advantage,” said Ian McCaw, Liberty’s director of athletics. “Flames fans will enjoy the arena’s modern amenities, including premium seating and hospitality areas.”
The plan will use the larger Vine arena primarily for convocation ceremonies and reduce the frequency with which the stage has to be set up and torn down.
“This arena will allow us to leave the Convocation stage in place for much longer periods of time since sports events will not need the Vines Center, except on special occasions,” he said. “Another benefit is that basketball and volleyball will have a more exciting atmosphere in the new arena. Crowds that size will be more engaged because of the closer proximity to the event and to each other.”
The project will also provide for exterior cosmetic improvements to the next door Vine Center, which has undergone significant interior renovations in the last few years. The school also opened a new 1,414-seat natatorium and recently completed an expansion of their football stadium to a 25,000 spectator capacity.
Liberty’s volleyball team finished last season 12-19, and were 8-8 in Big South play. The team averaged just 578 fans-per-game last season, which ranked them 99th in the country. Their 6.08% stadium-capacity-filled ranked them south of 250th in the nation of 326 included teams.