Virginia Wesleyan University’s Convocation Hall will soon be named the TowneBank Arena in the Jane P. Batten Student Center. This is possible due to a gift from community partner TowneBank. The Convocation Hall is now under renovation, and will be ready for the Marlins by August.
The Jane P. Batten Student Center and Convocation Hall, which was opened in 2002, plays a major part in the Marlins community. It served as the venue for Virginia Wesleyan’s Commencement Ceremonies from 2002 to 2018, which has since moved to the student commons. The Convocation Hall has hosted national entertainers, presidential and political candidates, the Virginia Special Olympics, which were featured on ESPN as host to sports competitions and a various selection of special events for charities that are founded locally.
The new TowneBank Arena will consist of 360-degree stand seating and a design that will fit Marlins programs’ growing attendance. The new arena creates an atmosphere full of competition and Marlin spirit. The new TowneBank Arena transforms the experience for athletes, students, and fans. The new arena will hold approximately 2,000 spectators. The Donald M. Forsyth Court will be updated and refinished to incorporate a new design with the TowneBank logo and the VWU Marlin. The new arena includes team sideline chairs, updated scoreboards and a NCAA specification scorer’s table.
TowneBank Arena will provide team locker rooms which includes the recently renovated NBA-style locker rooms for men’s and women’s basketball. The arena also includes the Marlin athletic training facility which is managed by Sentara Health, the Virginia Wesleyan University Athletic Hall of Fame and a redesigned All-American wall.
The arena includes direct access to the second-level Jacklyn and Raymond D. Pearce Suite and Intercollegiate Athletics offices. There is also an indoor track that is located on the second level.
TowneBank has provided support for other athletic projects, including the “field of dreams” for VWU’s two-time national champion softball team. TowneBank has also provided support for VWU’s Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony and athletic events such as the “Cross-Bay Rivalry,” which refers to VWU’s rivalry with Christopher Newport University.
The new arena will celebrate and present the accomplishments that have been made there.
The basketball program posted an at-home winning percentage of 84 percent. Marlins basketball has added such accolades as 11 appearances in the NCAA tournament. This includes seven Sweet Sixteen appearances, four Elite Eights, three Final Fours, and was crowned the 2006 NCAA National Champion. The women’s basketball team won the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championship in 2015 and volleyball claimed the ODAC crown in 2019.
Men’s basketball head coach Dave Macedo believes that the new arena will give the Marlins an at-home advantage.
“It means that we should be able to have quite a home court advantage if we can fill the seats. It will certainly be a different look with all four sides having bleachers,” Macedo said.
Macedo appreciated TowneBank’s contributions: “ It has really been good to the Marlins and provided us with a lot of great memories,” He continued: “Now, it is up to us to earn crowds and play that exciting brand of basketball we expect to play and bring that energy to the new TowneBank arena.”
Macedo believes that his players will love the new arena.
Due to the program’s accolades, Macedo is appreciative of the support he and his players get from the Marlin community. “I always have felt very much appreciated and have loved being the coach of your Marlins! VWU is such a special place. My passion will not change.”
Macedo has recently celebrated his 20th year at VWU. “I hope I am just getting started. I love being a Marlin and very motivated to accomplish our goals with this group next season.”
The new TowneBank Arena will not only benefit the Marlins’ basketball programs, but volleyball as well. A new arena brings excitement and energy during athletic competitions.
Senior volleyball player Amber Matalus explained the effects of a new arena.
“It definitely changes the environment of the game. Big gyms give off such a dominant presence to opponents and even have the ability to influence the home team,” Matalus said. “I always refer to it as swag, but it definitely affects how some people play and gives you a little more swag in your own gym.”
In regards to the successful season volleyball recently had, Matalus believes that the team’s success is getting recognized. “Our program is growing and it is cool to finally get some recognition by the administration,” Matalus said. “I think it’ll just give us that final touch to be a respected and dominating team in the ODAC.”
The new TowneBank Arena will allow the Marlins’ programs to grow and give recognition to the success that has come from the teams who work hard in that arena.