The Pavilion Brings New Life To Ole Miss
An overview of the crowd at The Pavilion at Ole Miss in the 2/23/16 game against Missouri. (Photo by: Browning Stubbs)
After blackouts, leakages, and squirrels in the locker room, it was time for the University of Mississippi to grant the Ole Miss basketball program a new arena.
Following an 18-month construction plan for a $96.5 million new facility, the Pavilion at Ole Miss was born on January 7, 2015 as the Rebels defeated Alabama 74-66 in the inaugural game in the new arena.
Ole Miss Head Coach Andy Kennedy said it was such an honor to lead the flagship university in the Southeastern Conference in his home state.
“I felt more pressure tonight than I did when we were in the 2013 SEC Championship game or in the NCAA Tournament,” Kennedy said. “We’ve never had a game like this at Ole Miss. I actually saw students running to the game, not away from the game. This is historic, so I did not want to let them down.”
“The mindset going into it was making something for everyone,” Ole Miss athletics director Ross Bjork said. “No matter where you stand in the building, you’re always a part of the game. I made the statement, unless you’re in the bathroom, you can hear the game.”
Club Red is the Ole Miss basketball student section. At the Tad Smith Coliseum, Club Red designed just two t-shirts per year for the students. Since moving across campus, Club Red offers a new t-shirt for every men’s basketball home game to enlighten the fan experience.
“I really like that the student section is so close to the court,” said senior Ole Miss student Katie Diem. “It definitely gives us a better chance to get in the opponent’s head and be the sixth man for the Rebels.”
“We want to give our students more opportunities to come and have fun so people will come and stand up for 40 minutes during a game,” Club Red student member James Lott said. “With the growing support for our organization, it’s nice to see students rushing down the stairs to get a shirt for basketball.”
The Pavilion may be the home for Ole Miss men’s and women’s basketball, but it also serves as a multi-use facility which includes a new gathering for students, a commissary open for the general public for daily use, and a new parking garage to assist with campus parking.
“This is a great place for our students so they can come here and eat and study. It’s kind of the center point of our university and athletics,” Ole Miss alumnus’ Smitty Smith said.
Not only do fans witness competitive basketball, but Ole Miss students can enjoy several new dining options in the Pavilion such as Oxford’s only Raising Cane’s and Steak n’ Shake, both of which are open to the public for lunch and dinner throughout the week.
“Steak n’ Shake loves the Pavilion. We’re extremely busy pumping out food,” Steak n’ Shake manager E.J. Lehman said. “You might wait in line for ten minutes since it’s so busy, but you will get your food right away.”
Within the past few seasons, Ole Miss athletics announced changes to the football, volleyball, softball, soccer, baseball, and basketball stadiums. Ultimately, the investment Ole Miss has made in their facilities could lead the Rebels to future championships.
“It says that we’re all about excellence and that we’re willing to commit and invest no matter what the sport is,” Bjork said. “Ole Miss is all about doing the best. It just speaks to the evidence and that we’re here to stay as a high profile athletics program and the Pavilion is the beginning.”
By: Browning Stubbs