Opinion: Long-Term Benefits of New Liberty Addition Outweigh Cons

If anyone’s feeling nostalgic for the cranes which once loomed over Main Campus, you’re in luck.

Just when you thought Liberty University was finally tucking away its hardhats and blueprints, the school revealed at the end of last month its intent to house a 125,000 square foot athletic stadium in a Vines Center addition. Construction will begin this upcoming fall semester, and the stadium is slated to hold its first basketball game by 2020. I say the sooner, the better.

Though cumbersome construction might temporarily hinder the campus experience, the stadium will ultimately benefit the school.

Currently, the basketball and volleyball teams practice and play home games in the Vines Center. They share their space with our tri-weekly Convocation, Wednesday’s Campus Community and other miscellaneous concerts and events.

That translates to constantly transforming the stadium multiple times a week. After Convocation, workers often must break down the stage, store all the wires and speakers and monitors and remove the floor seating and foam tiles. Before Convocation, it’s all set up again. The work is Sisyphean and costly.

A stadium dedicated to those two sports teams, and nothing else, would remove the pricey juggling of sporting games and other events.

It also might benefit the teams on the court, as well. While a fully packed Vines Center delivers a lot of shock and awe, basketball and volleyball teams do not fill the house. And when only a couple thousand students pepper a stadium meant for 10,000, it leaves a discouraging impression.

Though a Wall Street Journal study showed dismally declining attendance at collegiate sporting events, Liberty basketball games get a significant turnout. The end of last year’s season saw the NCAA ranked the men’s team second in the Big South for home game attendance, with an average of 2,000 attending 19 games.

The novelty effect also deems that a new facility will spur a greater turnout.

With significantly smaller seating, the new facility would give the teams a better playing environment that is loud and packed.

Those words can also describe the space between DeMoss and Vines for the next two years.

As intriguing as the prospect of this new facility is, the return of construction work is slightly less so. I can safely speak for most of the student body in saying that nobody is looking forward to more rat mazes of chain link fence, or cross-campus strolls serenaded by a jackhammer.

A project of this size is bound to throw the school into a logistical nightmare. Pedestrians will have to deal with alternative and less efficient routes. It’s unclear how badly University Boulevard will be affected. Aside from a possible drop in the speed limit, vehicular traffic might just go unscathed.

But may God have mercy on the bus system — and its helpless patrons — when the construction obliterates the second busiest bus hub on campus as early as next fall.

President Falwell assured the Roanoke Times that the bus pick-up location won’t move far from its original location, but where exactly is still a mystery.  There doesn’t seem to be any practical locations in either direction on University Boulevard, as moving it would most likely render the bookstore or the Residential Commons bus stop redundant or take out an existing parking lot students and faculty desperately need.

Growing pains are a necessary way of life, and it seems like the benefits of a new stadium outweigh the cons. I look forward to attending loud and packed games in the new arena. In the meantime, though, we’ll have to settle for it being loud and packed on the outside.

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