They've donated the millions. Now, they're breaking the ground. These local philanthropists have given the university the largest amount of donations it’s ever received for a single project. That $7 million will breathe new life into the JMU Dukes' Bridgeforth Stadium.
Mickey Matthews, JMU's Football Coach, says, "It will allow us to attract the top student athletes that can play football, run fast, jump high and hit hard to come to our school."
With this track removed, the end zone will expand into a 48,000-square-foot performance center. Athletic officials say it will be a second home to student athletes involved with "all" of JMU's 28 sports.
The facility will house centers for sports medicine and strength training. It will provide offices for coaches and a new locker room for the football team. But it will "also" be home to an academic complex named for JMU's "first" football coach, Charles McMillan.
Donor Zane Showker, "I think the whole athletic program is most important and so tied in with the scholastic program that they complement each other."
Zane Showker has been giving to JMU for 35 years. This building bears his name. And soon, so will this football field. But it’s the Pleckers whose legacy will live on with the new athletic center.
JMU President Linwood Rose says, "Bob and Frances are there whether we're winning or losing. They're there because they support this program."
And it's that sincere appreciation that makes Bob Plecker proud to give.
"Makes me feel like I've done the right thing," says Plecker.
Construction begins later this month. The expected opening of the Plecker performance center will be in a year and a half.