Get Your Tickets!

Today's an important deadline for Ole Miss fans, if they're interested in buying season tickets for football this fall.

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Fans can secure their season tickets before the renewal deadline today at 11:59 p.m. CT by visiting the ticket site or calling 888-REB-TKTS.

As fans renew their season tickets and Athletics Foundation membership, members may also request their season parking pass. For information on the parking allocation process, visit the parking page.

"Ticket and donation deadline is (today)," said Keith Carter, Executive Director of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation. "On May 1 we're not going to automatically give your seats away. We're going to reach out to folks and work with them.

"But we have to have a deadline and we reach out to see why people didn't renew. A lot of times people forget or whatever. We will start the allocation process sometime in mid-May. There is a lot of demand this year."

That's not all that's happening today and into the future. Several projects that have been discussed for months have begun.

"The IPF projects are underway," Carter said. "There is really one big project with two underlying projects. The first is the team meeting room. We've raised the money for it and now we've hit go. It's on the north end of the IPF. If you go over there, you'll see where that's begun.

"The second part of that project is the new dining facility. It will be available to all student-athletes and also all the public. Anybody can go in there and eat. It's where the banquet room is now. It will just be expanded. It will have everything a cafeteria has, a dining facility has."

There are other improvements at the IPF.

"We'll have an expanded weight room and a renovated locker room," Carter said. "The team lounge will actually be in the team's locker room. The current team lounge will be divided half for the expanded weight room and half for the cafeteria.

"Then there's the gameday locker room which is in the tunnel where the team walks out onto the field. Now they won't have to take that six-minute walk down to the locker room at halftime of the games. It won't be anything overly fancy, but it will get the job done."

There will also be an area for the cheerleading and Rebelette squads there.

"It's about $13 million (for the entire project)," Carter said, "and it's significant. This will help a lot of areas."

As for the new arena, there continues to be movement toward opening in the 2015-16 school year, just like has been planned all along.

Marshall Henderson
Bruce Newman

"We're talking to lenders for financing options, and architects are working hard every single day on schematic design and development," Carter said. "As far as the process of the project, we're getting all the ducks in a row so there is more substance to it when we make an announcement. We'll be able to say exactly what we're going to do. We're hoping to make an announcement before football season on all the significant facts."

The location, while not completely nailed down, appears to be between the Turner Center and the football stadium, as has been discussed for quite some time. There is also going to be a parking garage located on the upper football practice field that can be used for everyday parking as well as sports events parking.

Carter said he knows there is great anticipation for the north end zone project at football.

"And I think we're probably closer than you'd think," he said of construction there. "Whether that's two years from now, three years from now, four years from now, I'm not sure. We've always said that's based on demand and the inventory we sell in our current stadium. Obviously with the success of our football program and with the pricing through the CGAs, we feel like we're getting really close. We are close to selling out all the premium areas we can offer. We've always said that's a big part of moving forward to new premium areas, and that's getting the ones we have sold out.

"Everything we have from an amenities and premium standpoint is really pretty much sold out. We've got a few things left here and there we're working on. What that says to me is let's start building a waiting list for north suites. Let's start building the waiting list for north end zone club area. I think we're really close to being able to do that in the next couple of months."

Since Ole Miss plans to be in the new arena in the 2015-16 year, "I could see the north end zone happening a year or two later, something like that. Not too much longer," Carter said.

So where is the Forward Together campaign currently as far as funds raised?

"We're just over $82 million into the campaign," Carter said a couple of weeks ago. "We feel really good about the next three to six months. I'm signing thank you letters every single day for new CGAs that are signed, philanthropic gifts that are signed. We have a ton of people stepping up and giving money to the campaign. We just need people to continue to do it. The sooner we get the resources, the sooner we can get it done."

Corporate giving is an important aspect of any fund-raising drive as large as the one the Rebels currently have going on. But corporate giving in all aspects of the athletics department's financial side is important, not just to the campaign.

Some fans wonder why more corporations don't step up for naming rights on facilities. There are various reasons including a somewhat touchy one for the businesses themselves, especially in this state.

"It is a challenge, and you have companies that have done really well that have Ole Miss connections, but they sell their products to Mississippi State or Southern Miss (fans)," Carter said. "So it's hard for them to go all in with Ole Miss, and we get that. That's just part of the business."

As far as naming rights for the new arena, "We've approached several corporations, and a lot of times they say the footprint in Oxford, being a rural city, a rural state, it just doesn't make sense to do that," Carter said. "We'll continue to go that direction. We know we have to get more corporate support, whether it be out of Memphis or Jackson or wherever it is. We have to do that."

There is an ongoing meshing of IMG and TeleSouth, the longtime media and marketing partner for Ole Miss athletics.

Bo Wallace
Bruce Newman

Here's what IMG College says on its website about who it is:

IMG College is America's leading collegiate multimedia, marketing and licensing/brand management company, representing more than 200 of the nation's top collegiate properties including the NCAA and its 89 championships, NCAA Football, leading conferences, and many of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the country. Headquartered in Winston Salem, N.C., IMG College employs more than 700 people in nearly 100 offices throughout the U.S.

IMG College is the leader in connecting brands to 173 million college sports fans through partnership opportunities in multimedia rights, licensing, events and hospitality, marketing, stadium and arena development, stadium seating solutions, ticketing, sales, and consulting. IMG College produces nearly 30,000 hours of radio programming on the largest independent sports network in the country, manages nearly 5,000 hours of local television programming, is the leading publisher of college sports publications, and is the largest manager of university athletic websites.

Carter said the possibilities and potential there are interesting.

"With the new IMG contract, the corporate side of what we do, I'm sure they're going to have a major presence on a lot of that," he said of corporate fund-raising and naming rights. "Different things could change as they move forward. We'll have to see what that landscape looks like as we move forward and talk about corporations, whether that's marketing dollars or philanthropic dollars."

Basically stay tuned as this aspect of Ole Miss athletics moves forward and progress is made to lift the program even higher.

Carter said, despite challenges, these are good times for Ole Miss and the area he deals with daily.

Obviously with Coach (Hugh) Freeze and Ross (Bjork) and a lot of new things around our department, things have been very, very good," he said. "Here at the Foundation, we wanted to capture a lot of that. We wanted to be more inclusive. We wanted people to feel like they could take ownership of Ole Miss athletics, hence the new name, hence the new annual fund. A lot of things have changed since last year. Parking has changed.

"And I want people to know we didn't just change to change," Carter continued. "We changed because we felt like it can help what we're doing. Right now it doesn't feel like it's easier, because it's different. But we feel like we can get folks through a first cycle of this renewal, the first cycle of how this new parking works, moving down the road it's going to be tremendous for everyone."

Carter said he appreciates everyone working with the Foundation and the athletics department now and into the future with the common goal to lift Ole Miss sports to a higher level of achievement.

"Thanks to the donors and the fans and everyone who is investing in what we're doing," he said. "We work hard here, and we feel like we put a good product out and give good customer service. But if we didn't have them stepping up and giving of their finances, we couldn't do what we do."

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