By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Every home football weekend brings to the University of Mississippi a hotly contested competition for turf, where speed, aggressiveness and teamwork can spell the difference between the victor and the vanquished.
Oh – and there’s a football game, too.
The Rebels and their devotees open the season Saturday, and to keep that first competition – the quest for prime tailgating spaces, particularly in the Grove – more open to all fans, Ole Miss officials have made a change: Tailgating setups may not begin before 10 p.m. on Fridays.
“We have loyal fans and supporters across Mississippi,” said Andy Mullins, chief of staff to the chancellor and gameday committee chairman. “Some … travel many hours, and we are trying to give all our fans equal access for their favorite tailgating locations.”
In years past, setups started earlier in the day, creating congestion around classrooms as well as mad scrambles to get prime locations.
Under the new policy, police are authorized to arrest violators and confiscate their tents if necessary to enforce the embargo.
Other changes include a new “neighborhood watch” inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Mullins said. People can report fights, smoking or other misbehaviors to security personnel by texting their seat, section and row to 69050.
The campus will open to parking at 6 a.m. Saturdays. All campus parking is free on game days except for the lots at Old Taylor Road and Highway 6 ($15), the Physical Plant ($15) and the Ford Center ($20).
Parking on University Circle will be restricted to the right side (outside), with the left side reserved for quick loading/unloading stops.
Motorists who park illegally off campus are subject to having their vehicles towed.
“We try to be accommodating,” said Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin, “but you absolutely can’t park on the highway, you can’t block anybody’s driveway, and can’t completely block a street,” he said.
The city of Oxford and Rebel Ride will provide shuttles between two city parking lots and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Riders can board at Oxford Activities Center (Molly Barr Road at Price Street) and Oxford Middle School (Washington Avenue at Martin Luther King Drive).
Round-trip fare is $4.