HARRISONBURG, Va. – Joined by representatives from Union Bank & Trust and project general contractor S.B. Ballard Construction Company, James Madison University officially broke ground Friday afternoon on the Union Bank & Trust Center in a ceremony held at the facility’s on-campus location at the corner of Carrier Drive and University Boulevard.

“We are ecstatic to celebrate this day following several years of fundraising and planning work on this project,” JMU Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne said. “We continue to raise the bar in terms of the student-athlete experience offered at James Madison and the excellence achieved by our programs. This facility is vital step in advancing those efforts. We are grateful to Union Bank & Trust for helping to bring this project to fruition, and we look forward to the next two years working with S.B. Ballard on the construction of this centerpiece facility.”

Project construction will gain momentum in mid-May with the completion of the Spring 2018 academic semester. Much of the early stages of construction will consist of earth movement on the site and the demolition of both Blue Ridge Hall and the former Ron Martin Appliance Warehouse. Construction is currently set to be completed in the fall of 2020.

JMU initially announced plans for the new arena and began public fundraising exactly three years to the day on April 27, 2015. The naming sponsorship with Union Bank & Trust was officially unveiled on October 13, 2017. Learfield represents the Dukes through its local JMU Sports Properties team.

“Today is the next phase in JMU’s long history as we break ground on the new Union Bank & Trust Center,” said John Asbury, chief executive officer for Union Bank & Trust.  “Union has a long standing partnership with JMU that spans more than 20 years and we are excited to help the university continue its mission of supporting student-athletes while bringing a state-of-art facility to the Shenandoah Valley region.  Our partnership with the university, Alumni Association and athletics department shows our on-going commitment, as Virginia’s bank, to the region and the Commonwealth.  At Union Bank & Trust, we pride ourselves in being a partner, an advocate and a leader in the communities that we serve and we are proud to bring the community the new Union Bank & Trust Center at JMU.”

The Union Bank & Trust Center will seat 8,500 guests for basketball games and closer to 10,000 for commencement and other events with additional floor seating. Features of the facility include a club area, courtside seating with a designated private courtside hospitality area, state-of-the-art lighting and audio/video technology including a center-hung scoreboard and other electronic signage options, a student club area, expanded concessions and restroom availability, a multipurpose group event space, a team store and a Raising Canes restaurant. A 1,500-space parking deck will also be constructed adjacent to the facility concurrently.

“The Union Bank & Trust Center joins a long list of projects that enhance our campus and enrich the overall experience of our students, faculty and staff,” JMU President Jonathan Alger said. “Similar to the Hotel Madison project, the benefits of this facility reach far beyond the footprint of our campus with significant impact for the City of Harrisonburg and the entire Shenandoah Valley. We are excited for the next two years and the new possibilities that will exist as the Union Bank & Trust Center transforms campus.”

Stephen B. Ballard, President/CEO of S.B. Ballard said, “S.B. Ballard Construction Company is excited to partner with JMU to build a world-class athletic facility that will be a magnet for new, exciting opportunities for students, athletes and the surrounding community.”

The athletics success area of the facility will be highlighted by a separate practice gym and will include offices, academic areas, locker rooms, team meeting rooms, strength and conditioning, sports medicine and other amenities specific to JMU’s men’s and women’s basketball programs. The facility will also house new operations areas for the athletics ticket office as well as the facility and events staff.

About James Madison Athletics
James Madison University is a NCAA Division I institution located in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Nicknamed the Dukes, JMU sponsors 18 sports, six male and 12 female, with approximately 450 student-athletes and an overall student enrollment of 22,667. The Dukes are part of the Colonial Athletic Association, whose conference footprint covers the East Coast spanning from South Carolina to Massachusetts.

About Union Bankshares Corporation
Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, Union Bankshares Corporation is the holding company for Union Bank & Trust, which has 150 branches, 39 of which are operated as Xenith Bank, a division of Union Bank & Trust of Richmond, Virginia, and approximately 220 ATMs located throughout Virginia and in portions of Maryland and North Carolina.  Union Bank & Trust also operates Shore Premier Finance, a specialty marine lender.  Non-bank affiliates of the holding company include: Union Mortgage Group, Inc., which provides a full line of mortgage products, Old Dominion Capital Management, Inc., which provides investment advisory services, and Union Insurance Group, LLC, which offers various lines of insurance products.

About S.B. Ballard
S.B. Ballard Construction Company is a general contracting/construction management firm based in Virginia Beach, Va. Performing services throughout the State of Virginia & greater Mid-Atlantic.  Since our establishment in 1978, we have completed every project safely, on schedule and on budget.  We approach every project the same way we approach every relationship: with honesty, integrity and open communication.  It is our constant innovation that keeps us competitive, yet our core values that have made us successful. While we are proud of our success within our Industry, it is our involvement in the communities that we build that truly makes the difference.  We understand that we are not just building new facilities, we are building relationships. Our extensive list of 80%+ three-peat clients is evidence that we know what it takes to deliver high-quality projects with top-level customer service.