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Vines Center

Lynchburg, VA

Home of the Liberty Flames

4.1

3.5

Vines Center (map it)
1971 University Dr
Lynchburg, VA 24502


Liberty Flames website

Vines Center website

Year Opened: 1990

Capacity: 8,085

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Fan The Flames

Most people – sports fans or not – are well aware of Jerry Falwell. An international religious leader and pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, Falwell opened Lynchburg Baptist College in his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1971. After changing names twice (the school became Liberty Baptist College in 1976 and Liberty University in 1984), Liberty is now a member of the Big South Conference, and enjoys the largest undergraduate on-campus enrollment of any full-time conference member (over 14,000 students).

Liberty's basketball teams call the Vines Center home. Opened in 1990, the facility represented the university's move into a higher class of athletics, along with their emergence as event hosts. The Vines Center has hosted big-name recording artists, professional basketball and conference tournaments in its 20-plus years. Liberty University students also attend convocation in the arena.

Though the facility by no means feels old, a recent refresh of the building led to seat replacement and added space for teams and officials. With a family-friendly atmosphere and quality Division I competition in the Big South, the Flames are a great use of your entertainment dollar.

4.1

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

The Vines Center has worked over the years to upgrade their food offerings, and these efforts are on display when walking past the sizeable stand on the main concourse. The food choices are divided into four segments.

The top left of the LED screen lists the "Burgers And Dogs" offerings. These choices include hamburgers or cheeseburgers ($4.50 apiece), veggie burgers ($4.50, and quite the unusual offering, especially at this level of intercollegiate athletics), corn dogs ($4.50) and hot dogs ($3.50). There is also a "signature" item called the Flames Burger ($5). The Flames Burger is advertised as an angus beef burger, topped with pepper jack cheese, a fried egg, hot peppers, onions, and homemade spicy mayo. For the adventurous among visitors -- the author of this piece not included -- this might be an interesting thing to try.

The next group is labeled "Classics." The selections include chicken tenders ($4.50), nachos ($4), french fries ($3.50), slices of pepperoni pizza ($3), and pretzels ($3.50). Flanking that series is the "Snacks" group, which features popcorn ($3.50 for a cup, $6.50 for a bucket), chips ($2), peanuts ($3.50), candy ($2), frozen lemonade ($4), ice cream ($3.50), and the interesting dessert option of Oreo churros ($3.50).

All of these foods require a beverage to wash them down, and Coca-Cola is the official bottler on campus. Sodas are available from the fountain in 20-ounce ($3.25) and 32-ounce ($5.25) sizes. Bottled sodas are $2.75, with coffee and hot cocoa ($2.25) helping to warm the blood on the many cold days and nights of a Lynchburg winter.

There are also Coca-Cola machines on the concourse, should you just wish to grab a quick beverage without waiting in line.

The best recommendation would be to buy your food and drink early. This did not happen on the day we visited, but some fans have reported the concession stands running out of food items on some days.

Atmosphere    4

Fans at a Liberty game certainly get the feeling of a big-time collegiate atmosphere. There is a large four-sided video scoreboard above center court that accompanies a "standard" scoreboard (featuring stats for the on-court lineups, time remaining, etc.) on the back wall behind the basket. The four-sided center-hung board shows in-game video, as either the Liberty Flames Sports Network (LFSN) or Big South Network usually provide the video feed, as well as commercials and other video content. The public address system is not too loud or invasive, but the sound echoes a bit as you get closer to the floor. This makes announcements somewhat difficult to hear.

A lot of the arena is general admission seating. This is great for those who like seeing the game from different angles and wandering around throughout. The available mobility may be good for some, though. Sections 115, 116, and 117 feature premium seating and club seating, with the remainder of the arena being general admission. Courtside seating is also available for purchase, but is usually reserved for Flames Club members.

The school has a talented pep band with a diverse musical selection, and a mascot named Sparky. Sparky is a costumed eagle who is quite popular with Liberty students and sports fans alike. Though the school's official nickname is the Flames, the eagle became the mascot in 1980.

The team enters the floor through an inflatable eagle head tunnel. This makes for quite the interesting effect. Flame effects are used throughout the game, and fans are made aware of this before the opening tip. Flames shoot up in the corner after each player in the starting lineup is introduced, as well as after each converted three-pointer. The team also dims the lights for the now-customary intro video and starters introduction.

Neighborhood    5

Liberty University is just minutes from Wards Road (US Highway 29 Business), one of the primary areas in Lynchburg for shopping and dining. Chain restaurants representing almost every cuisine imaginable line the roadside areas, along with a number of big-box stores, hotels and other outposts. This should satisfy fans of all ages and preferences. Be advised, though, that with so many shops in a small stretch of road -- along with a seemingly endless number of traffic lights -- Wards Road is quite the traffic nightmare

Ledo Pizza is one of the options in the Wards Crossing area, and it is one pizza fans need to try. Founded in Maryland, Ledo offers a slightly different take on the standard pie. The sauce is a bit sweeter than conventional pizza chains, the crust is more flaky and the pizza is served on cafeteria-style trays. Sandwiches, salads, pasta and appetizers are also available on the Ledo menu. Doc's Diner and Macado's are a couple of minutes closer to the arena, and offer mostly traditional American fare. Doc's Diner is open based on the university's schedule, so be sure to call ahead if this is your preferred destination.

If you have a car, you may want to take a side trip to La Villa on Timberlake Road. Lynchburg is not exactly a haven for Italian food, but La Villa offers some of the best in town. The ownership and staff are super-friendly, taking the time to stop by your table and talk during your meal. The prices are also quite reasonable, considering the portion sizes.

Hotels are also quite prevalent for those who are looking to stay the night -- or longer -- in the Hill City. Extended Stay America is right across the street from the LaHaye Ice Center, Williams Stadium and Liberty Baseball Stadium, and a Fairfield Inn & Suites is just across US Highway 460 and up the hill. Numerous additional hotels are within a few minutes' drive, including a handful near the airport.

Fans    3

Liberty's Vines Center is a really large building, which is a great thing for big events like convocation, but is still a work in progress for Flames basketball games. The program is on the way back from a few down years, and fans are starting to file back into the building. It is important to note that even if the building is just half-full -- which has happened on recent occasions -- that would still be among the largest single-game fan gathering in the Big South Conference.

One of Liberty's mottos is "Be Early, Be Loud, Wear Red," and Flames fans are gradually getting back into the habit of doing so. Even as the program ascends back to the top of the league, fans still turn out and support their Flames in decent numbers.

Liberty also offers a student section that is -- as everywhere else in the building -- gradually growing. The students gather near the center of the court, and support their Flames while playfully heckling the opponent. As the program continues to get back to the winning formula, it will be interesting to see the growth of the student section.

Access    4

If your travels lead you to central Virginia by air, you will be pleasantly surprised to see that Lynchburg Regional Airport is just 5-10 minutes from campus. Though the flight selection into LYH is considerably limited, the airport's proximity is quite nice. The campus is easily reached via taxi or your rental car.

While we are speaking of easy access, it should be noted that the Vines Center is within steps of US Highways 460 and 29. These are the two major east-west and north-south (respectively) highways in the city, and you can be on your way to anywhere in Lynchburg or surrounding cities in minutes.

Parking is free for Liberty games, and there are numerous surface lots in which to leave your vehicle. Some of the lots involve a bit of a walk, however, so be sure to bring a warm coat and gloves if necessary, or head for one of those cups of coffee or cocoa before going to your seat inside the arena. The signage for fan parking is severely lacking, however, so your best option is to either follow the crowd or ask one of the attendants at the numerous limited-access lots to find out where to park. Failing that, the school occasionally publishes an updated parking map on its website.

GLTC Transit offers bus service around the city of Lynchburg. The 4B route travels to River Ridge Mall and the university, among other destinations. The transit company's website outlines each available route in considerable detail, so if you wish to ride the bus, this is quite helpful.

Finally, the concourse inside the arena rings around the top of the seating bowl, offering plenty of room to move and still see the game. The only exception to this is the concession areas, as they are both partially obscured by the fixed camera positions for television coverage. Bathrooms are available at several intervals throughout the concourse, and the facilities are clean and properly-maintained.

Return on Investment    4

Liberty offers a number of ticketing options for their fans, and all of them allow the opportunity to see Division I basketball at a very reasonable price. General admission seats are $10, with premium seats (the aforementioned padded seats in the center of the arena) at $15 per game. The university offers discounts for seniors (60-plus) and youth in both seating levels.

Liberty fans can purchase a game ticket, hot dog, soda, parking and a program for under $20. This is competitive with the cost of most other venues in the Big South Conference, and is a great value. When considering the cost of a movie or other entertainment options around the city, one is left to wonder why more fans don't come see exciting basketball in a family-friendly venue just down the street from most of those other options.

Extras    5

Liberty may not have an extensive history, but what they do have is honored in a number of ways around the arena. Banners honoring the success of the men's and women's teams hang above the arena's court, while additional nods to the school's past athletic successes take up residence in each end zone. A trophy case lines one of the walls, showcasing championship teams and past stars. The other wall features plaques for the Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame, All-American athletes and retired jerseys across Flames sports.

Speaking of retired jerseys, one prominently hangs above the tunnel through which the Flames enter the court. That jersey is the number 71, in honor of late founder Jerry Falwell. This number commemorates the year in which the school opened, and "71" or "1971" are on display across the campus in many different forms.

We mentioned the cold Lynchburg winters, and local ABC station WSET 13 has fans covered. The WSET weather department produces a Flamescast, which shows a brief forecast for the next 24 hours on the video boards. This is one of the many uses of the video boards, including showing fan tweets that use the school's official hashtag. This lets fans see their tweet on the big screen, in case the roving cameras don't show their face during the game.

Giveaways are also featured at every Liberty game. Everything from Liberty-logoed winter hats to foam fingers has been given to fans walking through the doors at the Vines Center. A photo booth was also in place on the day we visited. Liberty's website prominently features a promotional schedule, so if there's a certain giveaway you'd like, check out that schedule. Want a t-shirt? Try to catch one from the t-shirt gun, which is fired into the stands at random intervals.

The Flames' radio broadcasts are carried over WVGM 93.3 FM in Lynchburg, as well as via live streaming on the internet The Big South Network also streams game telecasts. The Liberty Flames Sports Network telecasts are frequently carried by MASN/MASN2, ESPN3 and many other national outlets.

Liberty keeps fans entertained during all the breaks in the action. Promotions like the Zaxby's Half-Court Shot and other contests give fans chances to win prizes, along with having a welcome distraction while waiting for play to resume.

Final Thoughts

If you have never visited Lynchburg, Virginia, before, you will find that Lynchburg is very much Liberty University, and Liberty is very much Lynchburg. The school's partnership with the city has been responsible for a large part of Lynchburg's growth, and Liberty has been a great "neighbor" for Lynchburg. The Vines Center has been a tremendous addition to central Virginia, and the only hope is that the fans continue to be an equally great neighbor to Liberty basketball.

Vines Center

This was a very good review on a very nice facility.Liberty has hosted the Big South tournament on several occasions,and did a fine job in the process.This is a very nice place to see a ball game,and the folks at Liberty are very friendly.
Without question,Liberty has had and continues to have a large impact on Lynchburg and it's environs.If you find yourself in the area,take in a game,take a drive through the campus,or visit Doc's Diner on campus.

by jerry | Dec 23, 2012 10:29 PM

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Crowd Reviews

Fanning The Flames

Total Score: 4.14

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

Most people – sports fans or not – are well aware of Jerry Falwell. An international religious leader and pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, Falwell opened Lynchburg Baptist College in his hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia in 1971. After changing names twice (the school became Liberty Baptist College in 1976 and Liberty University in 1984), Liberty is now a member of the Big South Conference, and enjoys the largest undergraduate on-campus enrollment of any full-time conference member (over 12,000 students).

Liberty's basketball teams call the Vines Center home. Opened in 1990, the facility represented the university's move into a higher class of athletics, along with their emergence as event hosts. The Vines Center has hosted big-name recording artists, professional basketball and conference tournaments in its 20-plus years. Liberty University students also attend convocation in the arena.

A series of upgrades is in the plans for the Vines Center, with the seating capacity expected to grow by almost 3,000 once the changes are complete. There is no need to wait for the upgrades to enjoy a Liberty game, however. With a family-friendly atmosphere and quality Division I competition in the Big South, the Flames are a great use of your entertainment dollar.

Vines Center

Total Score: 2.86

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 2
  • Extras: 3

An expansive facility designed as a community center for the late Jerry Falwell's growing empire, but that does not produce a good atmosphere for Big South basketball.

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Local Food & Drink

La Villa  (map it!)

8109 Timberlake Rd

Lynchburg, VA 24502

(434) 582-4700

Ledo Pizza  (map it!)

120 Simons Run

Lynchburg, VA 24502

(434) 237-9495

http://www.ledopizza.com

Macado's  (map it!)

3744 Candlers Mountain Rd

Lynchburg, VA 24502

(434) 845-6464

http://www.macados.net

Doc's Diner  (map it!)

212 Liberty Mountain Dr

Lynchburg, VA 24502

(434) 582-2886

http://www.eatatdocs.com

Local Entertainment

River Ridge Mall  (map it!)

3405 Candlers Mountain Rd

Lynchburg, VA 24502

(434) 237-1122

http://www.shopriverridgemall.com

Lodging

Extended Stay America Lynchburg  (map it!)

1910 University Blvd

Lynchburg, VA 24502

(434) 239-8863

http://www.extendedstayamerica.com

Wingate by Wyndham Lynchburg Airport  (map it!)

3777 Candlers Mountain Rd

Lynchburg, VA 24502

(434) 845-1700

http://www.wingatehotels.com

Fairfield Inn & Suites Lynchburg Liberty University  (map it!)

3777 Candlers Mountain Rd

Lynchburg, VA 24502

(434) 845-1700

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/lyhfi-fairfield-inn-and-suites-lynchburg-liberty-university/

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