Participating in the groundbreaking ceremony for Emory & Henry's multisport complex on June 26 were (from left) Madison Osborne, a student and thrower on the track and field team; Anne Crutchfield, vice president for athletics; Jason Boudrie, CEO and founder of Synergy Sports Global; Emory & Henry President John Wells; and Steve Smith, president and CEO of Food City. Photo courtesy of Emory & Henry.

Virginia-based grocery chain Food City will have its name on Emory & Henry College’s new sports complex. 

The facility for track and field, soccer and lacrosse will support Emory & Henry’s sports teams as the school prepares for full membership in NCAA Division II athletics. The college also intends to host local youth competitions at the sports complex.  

Food City announced a $4 million gift to the college at a Monday groundbreaking ceremony for the facility, which will feature an eight-lane track, about 800 stadium seats and more than 200 parking spaces.

An artist’s rendering of what the multisport complex will look like when complete. Courtesy of Emory & Henry.

The grocery chain’s parent company, K-VA-T Food Stores, is headquartered in Abingdon. It has 150 stores throughout Southwest Virginia and parts of Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as locations in Georgia and Alabama. 

“This is a collaborative vision to build a high caliber sports facility at Emory & Henry College. The MultiSport Complex is not only for our DII student-athletes but to support the youth in Southwest Virginia and those coming into Abingdon at the Meadowview Sports Complex,” John Wells, president of Emory & Henry, said in a statement.

The complex, which will be known as the Food City Sports Complex at Emory & Henry, is slated to house its first competitions in spring 2024. It will be managed by Synergy Sports Global. 

E&H announced in March that it will transition from a college to a university for the fall of 2024. The change is due in part to the master’s and doctoral degree programs the college has begun offering over the past decade, particularly in health sciences, education and business. E&H, which has its main campus in Emory, has also opened a School of Health Sciences campus in Maron, along with a campus in Bristol.

The $15 million sports complex was announced last year and will be constructed alongside a new equestrian center for the school. The facilities will be adjacent to Exit 26 off Interstate 81. 

The 187-year-old private school has about 1,400 students enrolled in its undergraduate and graduate programs. 

E&H will begin year three of its NCAA Division II provisional membership this fall and expects to be eligible for full membership in fall 2024. The move allows E&H to award partial scholarships to student athletes. 

The switch to the Southern Athletic Conference from its former home in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference allows E&H to compete against teams at nearby colleges in Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, along with the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

Lisa Rowan is education reporter for Cardinal News. She can be reached at or 540-384-1313.