The Jane P. Batten Center and Convocation Hall opened in 2002, and served as the venue for VWU commencement ceremonies from 2002-2018. The Convocation Hall has also hosted entertainers, tournaments and even presidential and political candidates.
The Convocation Hall is now known as Townebank Arena, located in the Jane P. Batten Student Center on the campus of VWU.
Townebank is a major supporter and no stranger to Virginia Wesleyan athletics. After Townebank funded a $500,000 upgrade to the university’s softball field in 2019, this past summer they donated $1 million in order to update the VWU basketball/volleyball court.
Men’s basketball head coach David Macedo said, “We are just very fortunate to have TowneBank really step up and be so generous. Our Administration did a great job with building this relationship and the overall design.”
Marlins women’s head basketball coach Liz Hudy said her “entire coaching staff and team is excited and thankful to play in the new TowneBank Arena. It is a premier facility for our teams to compete. The additional seating will provide a great experience for fans and spectators as well.”
The new Townebank Arena includes a 360-degree grandstand seating design including “endzone” seating that allows growing attendances to roughly 2,000 spectators. Growing the attendance capacity will allow for VWU to host larger events on campus in the arena. This will also allow for a greater atmosphere for VWU fans, student athletes, faculty and the students. Macedo said, “It’s amazing and truly is special. The guys love it! We have been sending them pictures now for a few months and keeping them updated on the progress. The floor design is clean and neat while the colors look great. Just really can’t wait to dive into practice.”
Some other new updates to the arena include a refinished court with a new design with the Townebank logo and the VWU Marlin, new sideline chairs and updated scoreboards. This really pulls the whole arena together to make the arena look top-notch. Macedo added, “I just really believe it gives us an even better home court advantage,” which can be huge for both the men and women basketball programs.
The new arena will also enhance the playing experience of the recent ODAC champion Virginia Wesleyan volleyball team. Sophomore volleyball player Haley Sutton said, “The new gym is amazing! We actually have volleyball lines on the main court which is super nice. Last year, we had to tape the lines down when we wanted to play, so it’s nice to have our own lines on the court. Unfortunately, with COVID, we can’t play, but it would have been super cool to have fans all around us and not just on the sides.”
During this world wide pandemic and dealing with COVID-19, Virginia Wesleyan is trying to do their part as well. Following CDC guidelines and maintaining six foot distances, VWU is breaking in the new arena utilizing Townebank Arena as a classroom right now. Hudy said “Due to COVID-19, the TowneBank Arena is being utilized as a classroom during the day. The bleacher seating allows students to spread out. Portable technology is in place for professors.”
“We are excited to upgrade our facility not only for our athletic teams and special events, but for the comfort of our devoted Marlin fans,” Dr. Scott D. Miller, university president, wrote in a university news release back in April of 2020. “We are so grateful to TowneBank and thank them for their continued investment in intercollegiate athletics at Virginia Wesleyan.”