Forward Together Campaign Reaches 'Building Phase'
Sep 6, 2013
OXFORD, Miss. – As the Forward Together Capital Campaign reaches its two-year anniversary this fall, its goal to bring first-class athletics facilities to the University of Mississippi continues to be the guiding light. That light shined a bit brighter on Friday as Ole Miss Director of Athletics, Ross Bjork, announced the campaign’s next chapter, the “building phase.”
“Today is a very exciting day not only for Ole Miss and our student-athletes and coaches, but also for our fans, and we cannot be successful without their support and generosity,” Bjork said. “Our team will continue to ask for fans’ support, and we know that Rebel Nation will continue to respond. These new facilities will help our student-athletes and coaches compete for and win championships, and they will also improve the fan experience. With our goal to open the new arena by January 2016, in addition to all of the other projects we’re working on, the energy and excitement surrounding Ole Miss Athletics is contagious.”
On Friday, Bjork announced the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s vision was becoming a reality as the Forward Together Capital Campaign exceeded the $95 million mark in pledges and cash received.
The building phase will focus on the Rebels’ new basketball arena and a five-story parking garage with 800 spaces serving the entire campus community. To maintain the current timeline laid out for construction the foundation must secure an additional $10 million in new pledges and cash by Nov. 1.
In order to be completed by September 2014, construction on the parking garage will begin this fall. Construction on the new arena will begin in the spring of 2014 with the goal to open the arena no later than January 2016, which would be in time for conference action.
The new basketball arena will seat approximately 9,500 fans, and include a number of first-class amenities to serve Ole Miss students, student-athletes and fans. The arena will be located on the west side of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in the space currently occupied by the Rebel Shop and parking lot. A five-story parking garage will be built on the south end of the arena where the northern most football practice field currently sits.
“The placement of the arena is a long-term decision,” Bjork said. “It will allow us to further enhance our athletics complex, and it will connect athletics to the heart of the best campus in higher education. This centralized location will create an impressive ‘front door’ for Ole Miss Athletics, and it will be a destination point not only on a game day, but for every day of the week.”
“I am excited as we enter the building phase of the Forward Together campaign,” said head men’s basketball coach Andy Kennedy. “Ross and the administration have worked tirelessly to make this plan a reality and I know the future of Ole Miss Basketball is very bright.”
Added head women’s coach Matt Insell, “this is a great day for Ole Miss Athletics and the Ole Miss women’s basketball program. The commitment from both the athletic department and the community to upgrade our facilities is a huge investment in the future of our program. This new facility will allow us to further showcase the greatness that is Ole Miss Women’s Basketball.”
The final phase of the campaign will center on the expansion of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, and the re-development of the Starnes Center, the Gillom Sports Center and the FedEx Student-Athlete Success Center.
There are many details that still need to be completed, but the belief is to make efficient use of current facilities and resources and to steward fans’ investment in a responsible and thoughtful manner. A goal with the expansion of the north end zone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is to build an impressive entry point that connects the historic Grove as part of the Ole Miss Athletics’ front door vision.
The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation has received 14 written agreements for new suites in the designed expanded stadium, but the exact timeline of the expansion plans are based on additional demand for season tickets and premium seating.
On Saturday, Rebel fans will notice the construction going on inside and around the Indoor Practice Facility. Enhancements to the IPF were accelerated earlier this year. The new team meeting room, full-service dining facility and expansion to the weight room at the IPF are currently under construction. The renovated locker room, enhancements to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and Hollingsworth Field, a new parking lot and a new Manning Way have already been completed. The remaining projects at the IPF will be finished in early 2014.
Fans should be on the lookout for more information on all of the Ole Miss facility projects in the coming weeks and months. The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s pledge is to keep fans informed as the Forward Together Capital Campaign continues to evolve.
To learn more about donating to the campaign or securing seats in Ole Miss’ various athletic venues, fans are asked to go to ForwardTogetherRebels.com, or contact the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation at (662) 915-7159.