Vaught-Hemingway Stadium’s most recent updates and expansions should be complete by August 2016. This project, however, is only a fraction of the total $222 million Forward Together campaign run by UM Athletics.
The stadium’s construction is only one of many projects of the campaign, including the already-completed Olivia and Archie Manning Athletics Performance Center, the west skyboxes of the stadium and the Pavilion.
With football coach Hugh Freeze hauling in a sixth-ranked team after National Signing Day, the Vaught and its expansion are heavily anticipated. The renovations began in 2015— the football practice and game fields, the north and south end zones and the video boards and audio systems are near completion under the direction of general contractor Roy Anderson Corp.
The stadium construction was budgeted at $5.4 million for the field conversions, $25.6 million for the north end zone, $16.9 million for the south end zone and $11.6 million for the video boards and audio systems. According to UM associate athletics director Joseph Swingle, over time, this budget has remained steady.
“A good team of architects, general contractors, campus facilities planning and innovative construction management accounted toward this trend,” Swingle said.
The renovations will accommodate the growing number of fans and students. It will welcome 5,500 more Rebel fans and the total seating capacity of the stadium will rise to 64,038 with a new student section.
UM Athletics Director Ross Bjork issued a press release explaining the expansion plans for the stadium in December 2014.
“It is very important to note that, if the demand for additional seating requires changes in the future, this master stadium plan includes flexibility for future expansion,” Bjork said. “Whether that is a north end zone that mirrors the south end zone, or even a new press box and upper deck on the west side, those options and others will exist as part of this master plan.”
Through fundraising and donations, the Forward Together campaign exceeded its previous goal of $150 million by raising $155 million, and set a new goal of $200 million. Since that new goal was set in November 2015, the campaign has quickly reached $161 million, including a $25 million donation from Jerry “Doc” Hollingsworth, the largest gift to UM Athletics in the University’s history.
The Forward Together campaign has more projects planned after Vaught-Hemingway Stadium’s completion. By December 2017, construction and renovation is projected to be complete on Oxford-University Stadium, Gillom Sports Center, FedEx Student-Athlete Success Center and Starnes Athletics Training Center and the Indoor Tennis Center.
– Lasherica Thornton