SBD/August 10, 2011/Facilities

Ole Miss Launches $150M Capital Campaign For Arena, Stadium Renovations

Ole Miss hopes to use some funds to renovate Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Univ. Of Mississippi officials yesterday announced a $150M capital campaign “that will help finance a new basketball arena and significantly enhance Vaught-Hemingway Stadium,” according to a front-page piece by Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson CLARION-LEDGER. Ole Miss officials said that the university, which “has an athletic department budget of $47.58 million, plans to generate $100 million from increasing the cost of premium seating in both venues, as well as adding ‘capital gift agreements’ to the purchase of those seats.” Capital gift agreements “are similar to the personal seat licenses.” Those signing up for a CGA “will have three years to pay it off, which will coincide with a planned launch date of the 2015-16 season for a basketball arena to replace Tad Smith Coliseum.” Also part of phase one of the project “will be additional premium seating at Vaught-Hemingway, the school's football stadium, and more concessions stands and restrooms along the concourse.” Phase two “will bowl in the north endzone of Vaught-Hemingway and add a large plasma screen overlooking” The Grove tailgating area outside the stadium. Seating “will rise from 60,580 to more than 70,000 when the plan is completed.” Officials “did not say when that phase would start.” The school will garner $50M “through more traditional revenue sources like philanthropic gifts and corporate naming rights.” Planning for the project “has been underway for more than a year, but replacing Tad Smith Coliseum has become a priority.” The facility, built in '66, has been “renovated over time, but a February women's basketball game against Tennessee had to be cut short when a storm blew water through vents at the top of the building.” Architects “have not been hired to actually design the facilities, and the timeline will play a role in final cost.” Tad Smith Coliseum seats 9,061. The proposed new arena “will be in the range of 10,000” (Jackson CLARION-LEDGER, 8/10). Ole Miss Senior Associate AD & UMAA Foundation Exec Dir Danny White said that the school “took in about $14 million in premium seat revenue last year.” Mailings to donors “will detail the specific amounts that the capital gift agreements would cost.” White said that the university “is prepared to borrow money to finance the construction if the donations are there to service the debt” (Memphis COMMERICAL APPEAL, 8/10). Aecom worked with Ole Miss to determine the cost for constructing a new arena (THE DAILY).

ON THE AGENDA: In Nashville, Jeff Lockridge notes “replacing the jumbo-screen video boards in Memorial Gym and Vanderbilt Stadium is among the next athletic improvement projects on Vanderbilt’s agenda,” and basketball “will get preference over football.” Vanderbilt Vice Chancellor of Athletics David Williams said that “fundraising is needed for the projects, and a time line depends on when the money is generated.” He is “hopeful that Memorial Gym’s four-sided video screen and scoreboard hanging over center court can be replaced during the upcoming season.” Williams also “would like to see the football video screen” in the enclosed south end zone of Vanderbilt Stadium “replaced in time for the 2012 season -- but he’s not making promises” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 8/10).
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