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Ole Miss athletics unveiled capital campaign fundraiser Aug. 9

Ole Miss Sports Information

 

Forward Together, a capital campaign fundraiser for Ole Miss Athletics, kicked off at a public announcement on Aug. 9 in the South Endzone Club at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. 

At the event, the University of Mississippi, including speakers Chancellor Dan Jones and Athletics Director Pete Broone, unveiled its vision for Ole Miss Athletics and announced two phases of facility enhancement. 

Boone called the day a landmark event for Ole Miss Rebel fans.

“The $150 million facilities initiative will be the cornerstone of future championships for the flagship university of this great state,” Boone said at the event.

 “Coming off of two consecutive years of record-breaking athletics giving, there is no better time than now.”

Boone went on to say, “The path we have chosen will lead to championships, and the path we have chosen, we can do.” 

Every bit of support will be critical to the success of creating these championship-level facilities.”

Danny White, the executive director of the UMAA Foundation, said the capital campaign, Forward Together, calls for everyone to come together and help reach that goal. White said the process started about a year ago with gathering information and preparation for the campaign. 

White also noted that Ole Miss is partnering with AECOM, a technology and management support firm, and Row 27, a web-based sports marketing firm. 

In the two weeks since the announcement, fans have already started coming forward with their support for the initiative.

“The response since our campaign launched has been overwhelmingly positive,” White said on Monday. “People are really excited to take this athletic department to the next level. We are already receiving gifts in the mail and online as people are stepping up really early in the process.” 

The total plan is to raise $150 million. Of the $150 million, approximately $50 million will come from philanthropic giving and $100 million will come from seat-related revenue, while none of the campaign will use public funding, according to the campaign’s website.

Phase one of construction will dedicate $100 million toward building a new 10,000-seat basketball arena, as well as concourse-related renovations to the football stadium. 

In the new arena, which is to be located behind the Turner Center, students will have an exclusive entrance, which will be connected to a pre-game tailgate patio. Students will also have access to courtside and baseline seating, which will allow them to be closer to the game and create a tougher atmosphere for opposing teams. 

Also included in the new arena will be an Ole Miss Athletics Hall of Fame, which will exhibit the history, tradition and achievements of Ole Miss Athletics.

“Our plan is to build a first-class, state-of-the-art basketball facility that will be home to our men’s and women’s basketball programs that our fans, coaches and student-athletes can be proud of,” White said of phase one in a pre-recorded video shown to those in attendance.

The remaining $50 million will be used in phase two of construction to bowl in the North Endzone of the football stadium, bringing capacity to over 70,000, including additional seating in the endzone as well as new club seats and suites. 

“The Grove is the greatest tailgating atmosphere in college football,” White said at the event. “We want to cater to that culture. We want to have a North Endzone plaza facing the Grove that will serve as an impressive front door to the football stadium.”

The goal is for the basketball arena and football concourse renovations and improvement to be finished prior to the 2015 season. The North Endzone addition would follow after that.

After the announcement, men’s basketball head coach Andy Kennedy discussed what the new arena will mean to his program.

“What this allows us, specifically as a men’s basketball program, is to say that we have obviously dealt with an aging facility, and that facility has had issues from time to time,” Kennedy said at the event.

Kennedy said the transition will help with marketing men’s Rebel basketball.

“More than anything, it creates a unique game day experience for our fans, and I think we are the only sport currently that can’t create that, just based on the logistics of the age of our facility,” Kennedy went on to say. 

“I think that it immediately addresses that, and it obviously gives us something to sell to future Rebels.”

Forward Together will be the biggest campaign in Ole Miss history. 

To view renderings of the projects or to donate to the Forward Together campaign, visit www.ForwardTogetherRebels.com.