Sep 1, 2009

Extreme Makeover - Sports Edition

by Jake Petersen


Thousands pack Vines Center, Simulcast locations for Friday's big announcement.

Extreme Makeover: Sports Edition
Jake Petersen
Sports Editor


Greeted by loud roars and a standing ovation by students in a jam-packed Vines Center on Friday morning, Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. kicked off the 2009-2010 academic school year by unveiling plans for a completely revamped Williams Stadium and Vines Center.
A.D. Jeff Barber giving a sneak preview of facility upgrade plans. Pictured with Coaches Rocco, Green and Layer.
Athletic Director Jeff Barber followed Falwell’s announcement by giving the student body a sneak peek of the new facilities with a slideshow on the Vines video screens. The football stadium, which is expected to be ready for construction following the last home football game of the season in November, will be constructed in three phases. Phase One
will be headlined by a new, 34,000 square-foot press room to accompany approximately 6,600 additional seats to the west
side of the stadium.

Four elevators will service staff, media and fans seated throughout the three stories, and the new facility also includes 16 permanent luxury seats designed for donors and Flames Club members. A 500-seat banquet facility, a 1,000-seat classroom as well as various office suites will also be constructed.

Phases Two and Three will focus on constructing even more seating around the complex, with a 4,000-seat upper deck expected to be
added above the current student section and an additional horseshoe style seating area for 6,400 people behind the south end zone. New bathrooms and concession stands are expected to be added in the stadium’s facelift as well.

Williams Stadium, which currently seats 12,000 fans, is expected to reach 30,000 seats at the end of Phase Three and will add “great beauty to the University” according to Barber. He noted that the long-range goal for the operation is to hold 60,000 seats and rival the facilities of Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia.

Most of the estimated $12 million it will take to fund Phase One of this project will come through donations from the Flames Club and other University donors, Barber said. An extensive fundraising campaign is expected to be launched immediately, with bidders pledging donations for naming rights to buildings, rooms and other amenities both projects will feature. Ticket prices “may be raised a buck or two,” Barber said, but will for the most part remain affordable to the general public.

Not to be left out, the Vines Center will also be undergoing a huge change in the next five to ten years. Barber announced plans to add two balcony areas in the arena holding up to 3,000 seats, with the option of potentially adding suites and clubrooms underneath for Flames Club members and donors. The project is expected to extend the Vines Center’s seating from its current 8,000 to 12,000 at the end of completion.

The project will also improve the exterior of the arena, giving the Vines a more modern-classical look. A Jeffersonian-style lobby with glass windows will be the first thing Flames fans will see upon approaching and entering the arena as well as a new brick façade to accompany the new look.

Head men’s basketball coach Dale Layer, who enters his first season at the helm of the Flames, believes the new plans can not only help his team in recruiting new players, but also by drawing in prospective students.

“The improvements of the football stadium and the Vines Center speak volumes of what Liberty is trying to do nationally. This is a great time to be at Liberty, and when you see progress and commitment and things going forward, you want to jump on board and roll up your sleeves and get involved with it. It’s a real boost to all of us,” Layer said.

Contact Jake Petersen at jtpetersen@liberty.edu.

Proposed stadium upgrades for Williams Stadium.

 

Proposed upgrades for Vines Center exterior.

Proposed interior upgrades for Vines Center.

 


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