SU to break ground on sports building

Shenandoah University will usher in the construction of its new Athletics & Events Center with a groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday morning.

Plans for the 77,000-square foot indoor center were announced in April. With multipurpose fieldhouse space, the facility will be able to seat up to 1,600 guests on risers, around 1,000 guests for dinners or a 5,000-person audience for theater-style events.

The university’s existing Shingleton Gymnasium was built in 1969 and can seat around 500 people. That gym will remain in use as an auxiliary gym and home for athletic offices.

The new facility will serve as an event venue for concerts and speakers as well as hosting sports competitions and practice sessions.

In the middle of the university’s homecoming weekend, President Tracy Fitzsimmons, university organization representatives and a number of student athletes will be attending the groundbreaking at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The center will be next to the Shentel Stadium.

Earl Swensson Associates, of Nashville, Tennessee, designed the facility, and Howard Shockey & Sons will be handling construction. The university received funds for much of the building’s total cost of around $25 million from a small group of donors. The university set a goal to raise the final $2 million in a public fundraising campaign announced in April.