An image released by the University of Mississippi shows a proposed expansion to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss. The university has announced plans to raise $150 million to build a new on-campus basketball arena and upgrade the football stadium. The first phase of the program would build a 10,000-seat basketball arena to replace Tad Smith Coliseum, a cramped facility that was built in 1966 and holds slightly more than 9,000 fans. It would also include renovating the concourse and premium seating in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
On the eve of college football taking center stage across the South, folks here in Mississippi appear on the verge of having a new team (maybe two) to pay attention to on a regular basis.
In a story that flamed up quickly last week, Ole Miss and Mississippi State could add Texas A&M to its Southeastern Conference Western Division permanent schedule as soon as next season.
The Aggies to the SEC, according to reports in multiple newspapers, appears to be picking up steam less than a month before the new, restructured Big 12 plays its first season.
Having said that, don’t expect the SEC to add the Aggies without throwing in one more to make scheduling easier. An SEC with 13 teams isn’t as tidy as one with 14. So, if A&M is brought into the fold, look for a school like Missouri to make the move, too.
I think a 16-team SEC is where the league is headed with Florida State and Clemson likely contenders to come into the league.
Mississippi State and Ole Miss look like they have been gearing up for any potential moves.
Just last week, Ole Miss officials announced a $150 million fund raising campaign, along with plans to replace the university’s basketball facility and improve Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The University said $100 million from premium seating charges in both venues and $50 million from philanthropic donations.
In addition to the new basketball facility and football stadium improvements, plans call for creation of a Hall of Fame to showcase Ole Miss Athletics history.
Meanwhile, MSU has been working on a plan, raising funds, for expansion of Davis-Wade Stadium by 5,000 to 7,000 seats at a potential cost of $100 million.
A rendering of what Davis-Wade Stadium at Mississippi State will look like when expansion is complete.on.
A football-specific facility, which would house offices and more, would be part of the deals as would upgrades to MSU’s outdoor practice fields.
Completion could be ready in the next couple of years.
For now, it appears Mississippi’s two SEC schools are finanacially prepared to take on the added challenge of Texas A&M and whoever else comes calling in a new-look super league.
The question left is how quickly all of this could happen.
Some reports show a deal between A&M and the SEC as imminent with the Aggies coming on board for the 2012 football season. Other reports show the deal making A&M ready for 2013.
Either way, money talks and the SEC is rarely on the short end of the stick. Landing A&M would mean millions in TV money for the league and ultimately billions if it lures the likes of FSU and Clemson down the road.
I’d be willing to bet my lunch money Georgia Tech and Tulane wish they had never left the league way back when.