Deadline Approaching

Friday is an important deadline. Better yet, it's another red-letter day for Ole Miss athletics.

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January 6 is the date that current seat holders in football have to make a decision to keep or let go of their seats if they are in one of the sections tied to a Capital Gift Agreement. Those are sky boxes, club seats, and selected sections in the general seating areas of the stadium.

"It's about 12,000 seats at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium that has a CGA associated with it," said Danny White, Senior Associate Athletics Director and Executive Director of the UMAA Foundation. "There are increases in required donations. But all we've done is raise it to about the middle of the (Southeastern Conference). It's a set donation that's locked in for a 10-year period. At the end of that 10-year period, the numbers as compared to our competitors will be back toward the bottom.

"The reason I say that is that I believe we have given (fans) a conservative plan. We've tried to be as reasonable as possible while at the same time giving us an opportunity to get these projects done and generate some new revenue streams with these projects to put us at a whole other level within this conference."

White doesn't undersell the importance of the next few days for the future of Ole Miss athletics.

"This is a really, really big week for us," White said. "Most know we've been pushing the information out as much as possible. We need everybody to step up. We feel great about this campaign. We're so excited and grateful for the support we're getting."

The plans are enormous as the largest capital campaign in Ole Miss athletics history is into its fifth month. Already nearly a third - $47 million – of the $150 million goal has been raised. There's a new arena planned for basketball, along with upgrades to the football stadium in phase one. There's an expansion of the football stadium by completing the north end zone project. That's phase two.

But it's all up to fans, alumni, and supporters of Ole Miss sports to make it happen. If current holders of seats who are now tied to a CGA don't respond by Friday, this is how it works.

"After Jan. 6, that's when we'll start the process of going through our waiting list and letting folks that are anxious to get into some of these premium areas know that there may be some inventory available," White said. "We are confident there are people that are waiting to buy particularly club seats and some of our better seating areas. So if folks don't renew their seats and don't commit to their seats, we do have folks who will step up and purchase those.

"But what we're hoping is the people who are currently in their seats stay in their seats. And all these folks on the sideline help us build the north end zone with their commitments."

After Friday, the push will be on expanding the fan base and growing that number to make sure seats are filled with Rebel fans in the venues.

"Our focus in the first several months of this campaign has been on the existing people," White said. "Once we get past this first chapter, we'll focus on new fans. I know there are tremendous opportunities out there."

Ole Miss has competed in the SEC since 1933 as a charter member. The push to make sure Rebel sports maintain their place among the top tier of college athletics programs is an ongoing process that never ends.

This week is important on many levels for Ole Miss athletics.

"We talk about competing in the toughest conference in America and competing on the national stage," White said. "This is the plan to get us there. For anyone out there (who hasn't), we ask you to step up. The time is now to do that."

White asks fans and supporters with questions to call the UMAA Foundation at 662-915-7159.

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