May 19, 2014
VIDEOS: Forward Together Trailer | Arena Fly Through | We Are Ole Miss
OXFORD, Miss. - The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation has seen many exciting days in its recent past, and has many more exciting days awaiting it in the near future. On Monday, Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork and Ole Miss Athletics Foundation executive director Keith Carter announced another exciting day in the Forward Together Campaign's history, as the campaign has reached $110 million in cash and pledges. The total campaign goal is $150 million.
"With the Forward Together Campaign reaching $110 million it marks another exciting milestone for Rebel Nation and Ole Miss athletics," Bjork said. "Our goal throughout this campaign has been to provide our student-athletes the best opportunities to perform, give our coaches the best chances to teach and recruit, and to give our fans the best atmosphere where they can root on their teams and have the most enjoyable experience possible."
"We've worked so hard to get to this point, and we still have $40 million left to reach our goal, but this is a big day for all of us," Carter said. "We have shovels in the ground and there's visual progress out there for all to see. With the help of our generous donors, we've raised over $30 million for the campaign over the last year, and we'd love to do that again this year, if not more, and reach that goal."
New videos of interest for fans include a Forward Together Campaign trailer, a fly through video of the new arena, and an over six-minute video entitled We Are Ole Miss. In We Are Ole Miss, which features many never before seen clips of the facilities produced by the Forward Together Campaign, Ole Miss chancellor Dr. Daniel W. Jones, Bjork, head football coach Hugh Freeze, head basketball coaches Matt Insell and Andy Kennedy, as well as student-athletes Gracie Frizzell, Cody Prewitt and Jarvis Summers, talk about the exciting future of Ole Miss athletics and what the campaign can produce.
Perhaps no bigger sign of the changing times in Ole Miss athletics is the ongoing construction of the new multi-purpose arena and parking garage which lies on the west side of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Fans interested in seeing the construction can visit a live video feed online.
The new arena, which is set to open December 2015, will have a seating capacity of 9,500 and will offer first-class amenities. It will include an intimate seating bowl bringing students closer to the action, and will feature three club lounges and over 1,500 premium seats. Fans can view a fly through of the new multi-purpose arena here.
As part of the Forward Together Campaign, a $12.5 million renovation and expansion of the Manning Center commenced in early 2013 and was completed this spring.
Among the upgrades was the construction of a full kitchen and dining hall that is part of the Ole Miss dining program and open to every student, faculty and staff member. The facility provides a nutrition center for all Ole Miss student-athletes. The Roland and Sheryl Burns Team Meeting Room was constructed on the north end of the facility lawn between the building and the south end zone of Vaught Hemingway Stadium. It seats approximately 200, doubling the capacity of the previous team room, and the meeting area was outfitted with state-of-the-art audio/video equipment and coaching software. Adjacent to the team room is a new head coach's office, putting all of the staff on the same level in the renovated coaching suite.
With the construction of the team room, a new front door and recruiting room was erected on the site of the old team room and pays tribute to the contributions of Ben Williams and James Reed, Ole Miss' first two African-American football student-athletes. The Williams-Reed Football Foyer celebrates the rich tradition of Rebel football with recruits, alumni and fans with interactive exhibits and memorable images from the program's history.
The existing weight room was expanded on the east side of the Manning Center, widening the area by 2,000 square feet. On the west side, the locker room was overhauled and enhanced to include new player lounges and renamed the Van Devender Family Foundation Locker Room. A photo gallery displaying all of these renovations and expansions can be seen here.
"Since our campaign entered the `Building Phase' on Sept. 6, we have been able to add to our momentum by raising another $15 million and renaming the Indoor Practice Facility the Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center and complete the entire scope of the center. The Manning Center additions and renovations are now among the best in the country and it was our goal to build a first-class facility," Bjork said. "Now, we can use this energy to capture the next phase of the Forward Together Campaign so we can reach our goal of $150 million. The start of the new arena and construction all over our athletics complex provides the reality of the campaign and we will continue to work hard to complete our list of projects under our goals and objectives."
Ole Miss will continue to develop the final plans for the north end zone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and the expansion components involved in the upgrade. The expansion will increase overall capacity, and create an impressive north entry point that develops exterior consistency with the rest of the stadium. It will also include the addition of premium seating, both clubs and suites.
"We are doing everything in our power to expedite the process and expand our football stadium," Bjork said. "Specific details will be finalized in the coming months, but the goal remains the same - to create an impressive front door for Ole Miss athletics and enhance the game day experience for our fans and student-athletes."
For more information about the Forward Together Campaign, and to receive information about how you can contribute, go to ForwardTogetherRebels.com or call the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at 662-915-7159.