Called the OBT for short, the C.H. “Chub” O’Reilly Enterprise Center and Breech School of Business Administration and Judy Thompson Executive Conference Center is Drury University's first new academic building in two decades. (Drury University)

Two Springfield universities are celebrating major additions to their campuses on Friday. A new business school building opened to the public for the first time at Drury University, and a groundbreaking ceremony kicked off the development of Evangel University’s future basketball arena and multi-sport training facility.

At Drury, the C.H. “Chub” O’Reilly Enterprise Center and Breech School of Business Administration and Judy Thompson Executive Conference Center officially opens following an Oct. 28, 3 p.m., ribbon-cutting ceremony for the center, which has already earned an abbreviated name — the OBT. 

The OBT is Drury’s first new academic building in two decades and was funded entirely with private donations, according to the university. The O’Reilly family provided the lead gift for the estimated $27 million project

The OBT measures 67,348 square feet, including high-tech learning spaces for students and an expansive conference center for meetings of university officials, as well as for the public. The OBT also includes an Einstein Bros. Bagels restaurant inside that is open to the public. Classes will begin at the OBT next semester. 

As Drury celebrates project finish, Evangel celebrates start of arena construction

Evangel University’s Valor Center. (Evangel University)

At Evangel on Friday, ground broke on the construction of the university’s 70,000-square-foot Valor Center. 

The center is divided into an arena and a training facility. The arena will seat about 1,300 people and include a VIP lounge, box suites and a concourse overlooking the university’s new home court. Along with the main court, there will also be two full cross courts in the arena for practices and tournaments. 

Along with the 40,000-square-foot arena, the Valor Center will also feature the Randy Rowden Training Facility. The university’s football and soccer programs will make new homes in the facility, as will Evangel’s athletic department staff. Between the arena and training facilities, the Valor Center will soon house Evangel’s basketball, volleyball, football and soccer teams. 

The Valor Center groundbreaking Friday is part of Evangel’s “Here. Now.” fundraising campaign, a $24 million effort that began this summer and included a $10 million gift from the family that owns Hobby Lobby. Along with financing the Valor Center, the campaign is leading to a remodeling of the Walther Hall dormitory and a new intramural field with artificial turf and lighting for night events. 

Cory Matteson

Cory Matteson moved to Springfield in 2022 to join the team of Daily Citizen journalists and staff eager to launch a local news nonprofit. He returned to the Show-Me State nearly two decades after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Prior to arriving in Springfield, he worked as a reporter at the Lincoln Journal Star and Casper Star-Tribune. More by Cory Matteson