Ole Miss campus parking garage opening delayed

town_oxford_greenBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

OXFORD – The Ole Miss Athletics Foundation sent a memo Wednesday that hinted the 823-space parking structure being built near Vaught-Hemingway Stadium will not open by its Aug. 15 target date.

“Due to the construction of the first-ever on-campus parking garage and a large amount of other construction currently in progress on the Ole Miss campus, we are temporarily suspending the selection of season parking passes beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, June 19,” said the memo sent to Athletics Foundation members who have not yet had their opportunity to choose reserved parking spaces for the 2014 football season.

“This is being done so that we can verify available inventory and reconcile the various construction timelines with the start of the 2014 football season. Once we have additional information available, we will provide updated information on next steps and any contingency plans that need to be implemented. Once we have exact details, we will notify you right away. We apologize for any inconvenience, and thank you in advance for your patience.”

Ole Miss plays home games against Louisiana-Lafayette and Memphis on Sept. 13 and 27, respectively. In October and November, the university will host SEC foes Alabama, Tennessee, Auburn and Mississippi State, along with non-conference opponent Presbyterian.

The garage is planned to be self-funding via sales of parking spots both for weekday use and for game days and other special events.

Mike Harris, director of parking and transportation at Ole Miss, confirmed his department is planning for the fall semester on the assumption the new parking facility will be unavailable. He said the weekday parking situation will be familiar to students, staff and faculty members when classes start Aug. 24.

“It will be the same as it was after spring break, when construction began,” he said.

Several hundred faculty/staff and commuter student spaces west of the football stadium were lost last spring when construction began on the five-story parking facility, which will eventually be attached to a planned basketball arena/assembly center.

Two new or renovated surface lots – one near the Jeanette Philips National Food Service Management Institute and another just east of the Manning Center – will make up for some of the lost spaces, leaving the campus some 200 spaces down from its inventory last fall.

Harris said commuter students will be urged to use Oxford-University Transit from their residences or from underused park-and-ride lots at the fringes of campus that offer bus rides into the campus core.

“This fall we’re going to limit the number of commuter permits we sell,” he said. “We want to utilize those off-campus parking spaces better and give those buying the commuter permits a more realistic chance to find a space within commuter-designated parking areas.”

errol.castens@journalinc.com