Talking Tickets

Here's some season ticket numbers for you as of Aug. 1. That's a month before kickoff.

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The Rebels are close to 34,000 season tickets sold now, which is up from 29,000 in May. Quite a bit of progress has obviously been made in that regard.

In addition, there are 8,000 seats allotted for Ole Miss students. Not all are sold yet. It is believed by officials that they will sell out of the student ticket allotment. That would make right at 42,000 total as of now if that projection turns out to be the case.

"We're still behind some from last year, but we've made up some ground," Wesley Owen, Assistant Athletics Director for Ticket Operations said of the entire season ticket sales to date. "And we're not done trying to make a push."

There is an abundance of marketing, billboards, and advertisement going on for tickets currently as well as a successful phone calling campaign. Another way is getting current season ticket holders to encourage others to join them in getting on board and buying season tickets.

"We're leaning on current season ticket holders to see if they can help us out and foster some more season ticket holders," Owen said. "(August) is usually a pretty good month for us. Football season's right around the corner. It's on people's minds a lot more. Hopefully with us continuing to push, we'll see more sales."

There was an announcement Tuesday of some incentives and options for fans to purchase tickets. Beginning now, season ticket holders have the opportunity to purchase additional single-game tickets by phone. In addition, August is "Referral Month," and season ticket holders will receive a Hugh Freeze autographed helmet by referring four fans to purchase season tickets.

There's also the "Pick 3" mini-package that will be available on August 8. Fans get a ticket to any three games on the Rebels' 2012 home schedule for the reduced price of $199.

Any remaining individual game tickets will go on sale to the general public on August 27.

Owen said the new offerings should help sales immediately.

"It's been a mix (of fans)," Owen said of the summer sales. "We've had some people order who've never ordered with us before who are just buying tickets for the first time. This year I've noticed a lot more of the younger crowd buying tickets. And we are seeing some who have dropped off the radar who are coming back to Ole Miss because they have renewed respect for Ole Miss and believe that we're going places."

Some important dates and numbers:

Season tickets will be mailed out the week of Aug. 13. No additional tickets or away game tickets will be mailed at that time. Those additional tickets and away game tickets will be mailed later this month.

Here's a road game allotment breakdown and approximate sales so far:

Tulane – unlimited allotment; 5,000 sold to date

Alabama – 6,000 allotment; 5,000 sold to date

Arkansas (to be played in Little Rock) – 4,000 allotment; 2,500 sold to date

Georgia – 6,000 allotment; 3,500 sold to date

LSU – 7,000 allotment; 5,000 sold to date

Allotments (7,000 maximum for SEC games) and their particular facets are based on contracts, when the home team needs unsold tickets returned, and continued availability as the game nears. There is often a deadline for returning tickets; otherwise Ole Miss is responsible for buying the unsold tickets. For example, Tulane will give Ole Miss as many tickets as it wants to sell. But Alabama is already asking for tickets to be returned to sell to their own fans. So Ole Miss fans need to purchase the SEC road game tickets soon to make sure they get them.

Men's and women's basketball email notices for early renewal of season tickets will go out later this month. Basketball notices in the U.S. Mail will go out in early September.

In another announcement made this week, Ole Miss was within $600,000 of setting a new record in annual giving as a university. The total was $122.6 million.

The fiscal 2012 total includes more than $38 million in gifts and pledges that are part of annual athletics fundraising efforts and also gifts and pledge commitments to be received as part of the Forward Together campaign. The campaign has surpassed the $65 million mark on its way to a goal of $150 million.

"That's a testament to our fans and to our donors and where they stand in their love for Ole Miss," said Keith Carter, Associate Athletics Director for Development/UMAA Foundation Executive Director.

Carter said the numbers are significant, especially since the Rebels have had some recent struggles, especially on the gridiron.

"Obviously we have not had the best of times from a lot of different aspects," he said. "From a competitive aspect, there's just some things going on in our world that could lend itself to not giving as much. But our people continue to amaze me, and they continue to step up."

Carter said the Forward Together campaign continues to be a top priority, even as they sell season tickets and raise money annually.

"We obviously want to drive the season tickets this year and the allotments there, but at the same time we keep pushing the campaign and the CGA revenue," he said. "All that adds up to the sooner we get to that number we need to be at, the sooner we can secure financing and put shovels in the ground. We're working on all those things."

Carter said there should be some important announcements in the days ahead.

"We got an upbeat email (Wednesday) from a donor that we'll be able to announce in the next couple of weeks that we're really happy about," he said. "It's a gift that's going to move that needle on the philanthropic side. So stay tuned for that along with others we have proposals in front of. We feel like the next month or two could be really good."

Carter also continues to feel good about the timeline for the campaign.

"We've thrown out that Sept. 1 date that we want to be to $80 million by Sept. 1," he said. "I feel like that can happen but we'll have to work extremely hard for that to happen. But overall our time frame of moving dirt next late summer or early fall is still right on target. Whether we make $80 million by Sept. 1 or Oct. 1, that's not going to change that a whole lot. I feel we'll be pretty much right on target. Our goal is to play basketball in the new arena in the fall of 2015, and I think we're going to do that."

Carter said the progress in the last eight or nine months has been remarkable.

"Coming from where we were last October or November and the valley we were in to see where we are today is pretty phenomenal," he said. "A lot of that obviously can be contributed to Ross (Bjork) and Coach (Hugh) Freeze and the drive and the intensity they have. It's been great. Everywhere we go, people are excited. They're realistic. They understand we've got a hole to dig out of and it's going to take some time. But they think we've got the right people in the leadership roles to get it done."

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