‘This is a grand arena’: Longwood opens Joan Perry Brock Center

Published 12:46 am Saturday, August 26, 2023

FARMVILLE – The ribbon cutting just got things started. Longwood students, staff, alumni and community members poured into the building as soon as the doors opened to the Joan Perry Brock Center on Friday, Aug. 25. 

As the crowd made their way inside to catch the first glimpse of the space, already affectionately

nicknamed the “JPB”, the energy began to feel like a late-season Big South conference game: positively electric.

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“This is a grand, spectacular arena,” said Farmville Mayor Brian Vincent, a longtime season ticket holder who was already eyeing seats behind the team benches for his family. “The Joan Perry Brock Center will certainly be an amazing addition to our town and university.”

The Joan Perry Brock Center will be home to Longwood basketball and serve as a central community gathering spot for concerts, performance arts events, and Longwood traditions. Basketball games will seat more than 3,000 fans, while concerts and other performances can accommodate more than 4,000.

In his opening remarks before the ribbon was cut, Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV said the center is not only a culmination for the university, but also for Farmville, Prince Edward and the Southside region. He specifically addressed the students gathered on Brock Commons for the ceremony, noting it will be a game changer for campus life. 

“It is your energy that is going to catalyze this place. You are going to cherish it, I can promise you that,” Reveley said. “So many of you are seeing the inside for the very first time and you’re going to be really, really impressed. As Joan says, this is going to be the heartbeat of campus.”

How was it designed? 

Located in the center of campus, along Brock Commons, the building’s design echoes the classical architecture of the historic core of campus. Meanwhile, the interior is reminiscent of classic college basketball arenas like Duke’s Cameron Indoor and Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse. The best seats in the house–on the floor directly behind the Lancer bench–are reserved for the most passionate student fans. 

The Joan Perry Brock Center will host its first basketball games on Nov. 11 and 12 during Homecoming Weekend. Season tickets are on sale now at www.longwood.edu/seasontickets. Single game tickets will go on sale later this fall.

Brock said that the arena’s location, as well as events that will be held in there like that Friday evening’s The G.A.M.E., where students receive their traditional scarves during a pep rally, and next month’s Convocation, where seniors are “capped” by their friends and classmates, will build bonds that last for decades.

“My classmates, who call ourselves the Longwood Ladies, have been together for 63 years,” said Brock in her remarks to the gathered crowd. “We have a very good relationship that has spanned that time and I hope you all develop those close connections with your own classmates. In 63 years you see a lot of changes, and here at Longwood we have seen a lot of good, positive changes–things that we are very proud of for our wonderful alma mater…I love that this building is right in the middle of campus, uniting the whole Longwood community and the Farmville community.”

Joan Perry Brock Center connects people

The connection that alumni feel with Longwood was celebrated at the event. More than 20 spaces in the Joan Perry Brock Center are named for other donors who made substantial gifts to the project—many of them former men’s and women’s basketball players. Among them are the Bowers Athletic Training Room is named for Dr. Umar Bowers ’01, a member of the men’s basketball team who went on to a career in internal medicine. The Harriss-Huffman Women’s Basketball Coach’s Locker Room was endowed by Dr. Arlene D. Cundiff ’69, a member of the women’s lacrosse and basketball teams.

Joining Reveley and Brock as featured guests at the ribbon-cutting were Rector Katharine Bond ‘98, SGA President Meredith Foster ‘24, women’s basketball guard Anne-Hamilton LeRoy ‘24, and men’s basketball guard D.A. Houston ‘24.

Bond, who has served on the Longwood Board of Visitors for the entirety of the project, helped open the arena in one of her first duties as Rector. 

“This building is about connections,” said Bond. “In this day and age, we think about connections in terms of our wireless devices and streaming and this is a different type of connection. This is where you put those things down and connect with each other.” 

Plans for the Joan Perry Brock Center were first announced to the Longwood community in 2019 in conjunction with the largest gift in the university’s 180-year history, a $15 million commitment from Brock, a philanthropist. 

‘Make the most of it’

In closing, Reveley had a special message for seniors, the members of the Class of 2024, who entered Longwood as freshmen in the fall of 2020 amid the global pandemic. He noted they will graduate next spring 60 years after the Class of 1964, which included Brock and a tight-knit group of her friends affectionately known as the “Longwood Ladies.” 

 “Covid once upon a time took from you so many rituals delayed or even put to the side, and you have persevered,” he said. “Now, in your senior year, you get to enjoy this magnificent space and I want you to make the most of it.”