Vaught-Hemingway will have a new and improved look as Ole Miss begins its 2013 home football schedule against Southeast Missouri State University on Saturday.
The stadium received a facelift during the offseason that included the addition of blue sidelines, four on-field suites, brick outlines around the edges of the stadium, a new slogan on the press box, reconstruction of the first two rows on both sidelines and the removal of the chain link fence on each sideline.
Although it sounds like a lot of changes, Ole Miss Marketing Coordinator Brandon Hudspeth said he thinks it will still be the same Vaught-Hemingway that Rebel fans have come to love.
“I think the fans will feel excitement not only because it’s the first home game of the season, but also because of the changes,” Hudspeth said. “It’ll have a little bit different look but for the most part it’s going to be exactly what you remember of the stadium before.”
According to Hudspeth, the blue turf is mainly a staging area where personnel can go back and forth without having to worry about interfering with players. The addition of the blue sidelines was the biggest priority for the stadium renovations due to a lack of sufficient room to ensure the safety of the players as well as anyone else on the sidelines.
Hudspeth said this will make it easier for everyone on the sidelines and will avoid the chaos game day personnel previously faced.
“We’ve had a problem for a long time with not having enough room on the sidelines,” Hudspeth said. “It was mainly a safety issue for players. Right now if you’re a game day personnel coming on the field and you have to get to the other end, you have to jump over Gatorade coolers and weave through TV trucks. The blue really separates it and lets you know it’s a staging area.”
With the addition of the blue sidelines came brick outlying, giving the stadium a much nicer look, according to Hudspeth.
“We wanted to upgrade the look and give it that brick facade so it looks nicer and (has) more of a polished look to it, and we took out the chain link fence on the field level,” he said.
Another addition to the stadium is four new on-field luxury boxes, one in each corner. According to Hudspeth, one box is reserved for the Athletics Foundation and will mainly be used for donors, and another is bought by a sponsor. The other two boxes can be rented by anyone for any game, which has drawn a huge response.
“It’s been a big hit so far; obviously the bigger games have been sold,” Hudspeth said. “As far as the (game) experience goes, which is what we’re so concerned about on game day, I don’t think you can get any better than right there next to the action.”
Another change Ole Miss fans will quickly notice is the removal of the old Ole Miss logo on the press box. This has been replaced by the phrase “Home of the Ole Miss Rebels.”
Hudspeth said many fans thought the logo was the incorrect one.
“Everyone thinks it’s the wrong logo when in fact it was a very old logo that I think was done wrong or made wrong from the beginning,” Hudspeth said.
When asked about the feedback the school has received so far from fans about the renovations, Hudspeth said it has been overwhelming.
“So far it’s been wonderful,” Hudspeth said. “They really like the look. They think it makes the stadium more cohesive and have a classier look. Glad to see our hard work pay off.”