Plans for Emory & Henry and the I-81 Corridor
Emory & Henry College plans to construct two new facilities on property it owns adjacent to Exit 26 off Interstate 81 — a new equestrian center and a new multi-sport complex for track and field, soccer and lacrosse.
“This expansion will not only allow us to build more first-class facilities that complement our academic reputation, it will enable us to expand the Emory & Henry brand along the heavily traveled I-81 corridor where thousands of drivers and potential students pass by daily,” said President John W. Wells.
The new equestrian center on the south side of I-81 would replace the aging facility at Exit 10 that Emory & Henry took over when Virginia Intermont College closed in 2014. The new facility would feature an indoor competition riding arena with spectator seating, an outdoor riding arena, multiple paddocks, high-tech classroom space and tack rooms, ample and modern stalls for college horses and boarding for student horses. The facility design is by specialty equestrian architect Joseph Martinolich from Lexington, Ky. Plans are being discussed to incorporate the Exit 10 facility for additional equestrian programming.
The multi-sport athletic complex would serve as the new home for Emory & Henry’s track and field program as well as provide competition and practice space for the soccer and rugby teams, and possibly lacrosse in the future. Artificial turf field, lighting, locker rooms, restrooms and concessions would also be included in the project slated for the north side of Exit 26. The project is designed by athletic experts at VMDO Architects from Charlottesville, Va.
It is anticipated that both facilities will host local, regional and national tournaments throughout the year to attract more people to the campus and the region.
In recent conversations with state and local government officials and business leaders, Wells said he remains optimistic about the long-term prospects for the College, the region and its economy. “There is a lot of good news to talk about in the region, whether it is the new Bristol Hard Rock casino and entertainment venue that is coming, the new Meadows Sports Complex in Abingdon, or expanding health care education opportunities in Marion. We want to be good community partners because we all have a stake in seeing our region do well,” Wells said.
The announcement of these new facilities follows on the heels of an announcement by the College in the spring of 2022 to build new upper-class student apartments to accommodate students off College Drive. Construction of the apartments will start later this spring with students expected to take occupancy in the Spring 2023 semester.