Joseph G. Echols Hall
Joseph G. Echols Hall has served as Norfolk State’s basketball arena, primary athletics facility and the home for the school’s Army Reserve Officer Training Corps since it opened its doors in November 1982. The arena has a seating capacity of 4,500, ranking it in the upper half of the MEAC in terms of total capacity. Echols Hall also serves as the home for NSU volleyball contests.
The building was named after the late Joseph Echols, who dedicated more than 20 years to the advancement of athletics, health and physical education at NSU.
The arena has seen plenty of improvement over the last several years. Most recently in the summer of 2014, a new floor system was installed to replace the original one. Over the course of a few months, the old floor was ripped up and a new “floating” floor was put down.
The floor system included both the sub-floor – the part that anchors into the concrete base – as well as the actual wooden basketball floor. The new “floating” floor provides more give than the previous one, which can lessen the potential for injuries.
New conduits were also installed with the replacement of the floor. The conduits allow for all wiring to run underneath the floor, including wiring for a potential video board down the road.
NSU also replaced all of the original wooden bleachers over a five-year period. In the summer of 2013, the upper level bleachers were replaced with green and gold chair-back seating. That of course followed the replacement of the lower-level bleachers and chairs in August of 2008 and ’09. Green and gold chair-back seating was installed at that time, taking the place of the old chair-back seating and bleachers that used to line the lower, reserved sections of the gym.
Over the last few years other smaller projects have also improved the look of Echols Hall. In the summer of 2014, an elevator lift was installed in the southeast corner of the arena to allow access to second-level seating areas and concessions for handicapped individuals.
In addition to the wooden basketball surface, the floor areas next to the arena’s inside entrances were also replaced in 2014. New logos were painted near those five entrances, and the doors leading to the arena floor were also painted.
The building’s outside doors were replaced in 2013, and all of the ceiling lights inside the arena were changed to new fluorescent bulbs prior to the 2012-13 basketball season.
Echols Hall boasts both reserved and general admission seating for all basketball games, as well as free general admission for all volleyball matches. Two concessions stands located in the corners of the arena serve fans during basketball games.
In addition to housing the men’s and women’s basketball offices and locker rooms, Echols Hall also is home to an auxiliary sports medicine facility for both basketball and volleyball, serving student-athletes during practices and games.
A native of Englewood, N.J., Echols was a multi-sport standout at both St. Cecelia High School and Virginia State University before beginning a professional baseball career with the Newark Eagles. After that, Echols served in the Air Force, where he reached the rank of First Lieutenant.
In 1955, Echols came as an instructor to the Norfolk Division of Virginia State College (now NSU), where he later helped pioneer the development of an overall athletic program at the school. It was his foresight that led to the creation of varsity sports in baseball, track and field, wrestling, swimming, tennis and golf.
During his illustrious career, Echols served as an official in the CIAA, the Virginia Interscholastic Association and the Virginia High School League, and also as commissioner of the Hampton Roads Board of Officials. He was eventually named president of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials, and later was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.