July 16, 2013
By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com
As part of the Forward Together campaign, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the Indoor Practice Facility are undergoing renovations and expansions.
The improvements inside the stadium, as well as the renovated and expanded locker room, are scheduled for completion by Aug. 1, 2013, while the other improvements are scheduled for completion by late 2013.
At field level, brick will soon line the east and west sidelines, while padding will remain in both end zones. The communications inside the stadium will also now be housed in boxes inside the bricks for easier access.
"We wanted to bring in the Ole Miss feel with the brick and the white cap," said Joe Swingle, associate A.D. for facilities and game operations. "Everything from what is around the wrought iron fence plus campus. When you think of Ole Miss, you think of the brick instead of the concrete, and we wanted to bring that feel inside the stadium."
The other part of this addition is the installation of two rows of seats behind the brick on both the east and west side of the stadium. These 600 field-level navy seats will feature chair back seating with cushions and cup holders.
New covered hospitality areas are also being added in the southeast and northwest corners of the stadium, complete with pub tables and pub chairs. Swingle said this idea came from Wake Forest, which also has two on-field suites.
New turf will be installed between the second media line and the brick on both sidelines, and the logos on the field are being replaced so that they're not painted, but permanently sewed in.
"The stadium will bring in all of our colors," Swingle said. "Not only do we add the brick and the white cap from the campus standpoint, but then you have the red chairs in the club and premium areas, the gray all the way down, the blue in the portals, and once we add the two rows of Navy premium seats, you will be able to see all our colors in the stadium."
In the bowels of the south end zone, two storage rooms have been turned into a halftime locker room, complete with a training room, restrooms and white boards.
"Talking with Coach Freeze and everybody, it took about six minutes of their halftime for the whole team to walk down to the locker room and then turn around and walk back while the visiting team was already game-planning in their locker room," Swingle said.
"What we have done is created this halftime locker room, so our team has the same advantage as our visitors."
In the same area, a new locker room for the spirit groups has been constructed, a space that is private, lockable and air-conditioned.
The other upgrade, scheduled for completion by the end of July, in time for the start of fall practice, is the renovated and expanded locker room in the Indoor Practice Facility.
The locker room will include new, custom-built lockers and three player lounge areas. Each locker will have an electrical outlet and ventilation. The entire area will increase in size from 6,500 square feet to 9,000 square feet.
On the site of the current team meeting room will be a new barrel vault entrance that will be a front door for the Indoor Practice Facility and the football program in general.
As you walk in, to your left will be the new dining facility, to your right will be the renovated coaching suite, and straight ahead will be the current indoor practice field.
The new dining facility will include a full kitchen and dining hall that will be part of the Ole Miss dining program and open to every student and faculty and staff member. The 13,500-square foot facility will provide a nutrition center for all Ole Miss student-athletes.
Adjacent to the facility will be the renovated and expanded weight room, which will increase in size from 8,000 square feet to 9,500 square feet. It will include new equipment, re-done floors, an expanded nutrition area and an opaque glass facade that will let in some natural light.
The new team meeting room is being constructed on the north end of the facility in the current lawn between the building and the south endzone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. It will seat 200, doubling the capacity of the current team room.
The other part of this addition will be a new head coach's office and suite area, putting all of the staff on the same level for better communication.
As part of the renovations and expansions of the Indoor Practice Facility, the south side of the stadium will add 700 parking spaces. There will be a new parking lot with 300 spaces on the east side of the track and field complex. And the parking lot adjacent to the Indoor Practice Facility will be expanded to add 400 more spaces, which will accommodate the new dining facility.
In addition, East Stadium Drive and Manning Way are being extended to be a main thoroughfare that will connect Gertrude Ford Boulevard and Hill Drive, as well a new bike lane that will connect the same two roads.
Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller