TUPELO – Football stadium expansion, while not on his mind in recent seasons, has drawn a stronger look from Ole Miss athletics director Pete Boone because of a surge in season ticket sales.
Boone told the Tupelo Rotary Club on Monday that it might be time to “look hard” at expanding Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Last season Ole Miss record roughly 39,000 season ticket sales. That figure could surpass 50,000 this season as excitement builds around a team ranked in the preseason top 10 in both major polls. Late last week, the school announced it had set a sales record with 48,264 season ticket purchases.
“We expect to sell out of season tickets,” said Sans Russell, assistant athletics director for ticket operations.
That’s now expected to generate an additional $2 million in unbudgeted revenue.
“This year we’ve moved up to where almost every game is a guaranteed sellout,” Boone said. “We have to start looking at stadium expansion. The question is, how do you want to go about it?”
Built in 1915, the stadium was last expanded in 2002 when the south end zone was bowled in and suites and club seating were added. That brought the stadium to its current capacity of 60,580.
Presumably, any expansion would include finishing the stadium bowl to include the north end zone. Boone that specifically but said any approach to expansion would have to “include some sort of club section.”
General ticket sales do not produce the revenue needed to compete in today’s market, Boone said. He also said he’d like to see the stadium achieve a more “symmetrical” appearance.
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal