JMU roundup: JMU unveils plans for new Convocation Center

HARRISONBURG – James Madison University Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne unveiled images and plans on Monday for a new on-campus Convocation Center.

“The Convocation Center will help us grow our JMU brand and place us in a position for relevance on a national stage,” Bourne said in a press release. “This is a significant initiative in our continued efforts to establish a culture and facilities that will allow our men’s and women’s basketball programs to compete at the highest level of Division I athletics.”

The 8,500-seat structure will play host to a myriad of events annually, including basketball games, public speakers, university convocation and graduation, high school graduation ceremonies, concerts, conventions, trade shows and family entertainment options.

“The new Convocation Center will elevate the national profile of JMU and the Shenandoah Valley,” added JMU President Jonathan R. Alger in the press release. “Athletics is a significant component of the outward story of James Madison University and this complex is a key priority for us during our capital campaign.”

The $88 million dollar arena will be located at the corner of University Boulevard and Carrier Drive, adjacent to the East Campus Dining Hall and the Festival Conference and Student Center.

The Convocation Center will be the largest event space in the Shenandoah Valley and will showcase premium seating areas similar to Bridgeforth Stadium. Such features include a club level, private suites and hospitality spaces, along with a pre-event space for JMU students. The arena will also have cutting-edge technology, including a four-sided video scoreboard and ribbon board.

The basketball operations facility will be attached to the arena and will serve as the home of the JMU men’s and women’s basketball programs. The operations facility will house first-class offices, locker rooms, training spaces, meeting rooms and a full-court practice facility with six shooting stations.

“This will be a game changer for our program,” said women’s basketball head coach Kenny Brooks in the press release. “We compete nationally for recruits and this project will help us secure those top-tier student-athletes.”

Men’s basketball Head Coach Matt Brady echoed Brooks’ comments in the release, stating, “College basketball is all about recruiting and this facility will give us an edge in attracting the highest-caliber student-athletes to JMU. The training spaces will set a new industry standard and allow us to develop our student-athletes to reach their potential on and off the court.”

The university has established a fundraising goal of $12 million, and all support must be secured before construction on the project can begin. No formal construction timeline has been set but the University is actively fundraising.

“It’s critical that our supporters make commitments so this project becomes a reality,” Bourne said. “Unlike the Bridgeforth Stadium expansion, when we announced a specific construction start date, this project will not begin until we reach our fundraising goal.”

For more information or to support the project, please contact the Duke Club Office at (540) 568.6461.


RICHMOND – Freshman center fielder Michael Sciorra of the James Madison baseball team has been named the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week, as announced by the league on Monday afternoon.

The Chantilly, Va., native helped lead the Dukes to three home wins this past week as JMU picked up a comeback win over George Mason on Tuesday evening before winning two-of-three against Towson over the weekend.

Sciorra went 10-for-15 (.667) with a double on the week, scoring six runs and driving in three more. After a 3-for-3 evening on Tuesday that saw him score four runs, Sciorra tacked on three-hit outings on both Saturday and Sunday against Towson.

The stellar week raised Sciorra’s batting average more than 50 points, as the freshman went from .193 to .250. In conference games, the numbers are even better, as Sciorra is hitting .298 with a .421 slugging percentage against CAA opponents.

This marks Sciorra’s second CAA Rookie of the Week honor and the fourth such accolade for JMU in 2015. Sciorra captured the award himself after the opening weekend (Feb. 17), while fellow freshman Kyle McPherson picked up the award on both March 10 and April 6.

Of the 11 CAA Rookie of the Week awards handed out by the CAA this season, UNCW is the only other team to win more than one award, with two (Feb. 24/March 23), and no other individual player, for any team, has won more than one.

JMU will be back in action on Tuesday evening when it travels to Lynchburg, Va., to take on Liberty in a midweek, non-conference bout. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.