Pavilion opening is exciting

Published 1:14 pm Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Pavilion at Ole Miss will be christened tonight at 8 as the Ole Miss Rebels take on the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The vision for the 9,500-capacity Pavilion was to have a multipurpose arena that could be used by students daily. Athletic officials wanted the Pavilion to serve as a front door for the athletic department on the Ole Miss campus.

The Pavilion project is part of the Ole Miss Athletics Foundation’s Forward Together campaign. The estimated cost of the facility was $96.5 million. Ground was broken on the project on July 31, 2014.

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Athletic Director Ross Bjork had the vision that the Pavilion would be more than a new home for the men and women’s basketball teams, and that will happen because the Pavilion will be incorporated into the everyday life of students and will be a meeting place during football season with its proximity next to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

“That was the biggest thing for us,” Bjork said. “This could not just be a basketball facility tucked away somewhere where you only play basketball games. It had to be a centerpiece on campus, in my mind and also in the administration’s mind. It had to be a front door, if you will, for athletics. It had to have a student component Monday through Friday, like our food court area.”

One of the other advantages of the Pavilion is that it will be able to host concerts. Brad Paisley will bring his Country Nation College Tour for a free concert at the Pavilion on Jan. 24 as part of the grand-opening festivities.

Admission to this concert is free with seating on a first-come, first-serve basis. Floor seating will be reserved for Ole Miss students. Oxford is quickly becoming known for its love of music and hopefully the Pavilion at Ole Miss will be able to bring in larger acts for our community.

Other features of the Pavilion include a technology hub in the lobby area and the largest center-hung video board in college basketball. The screens for the video board are 12 feet tall by 22 feet wide on all four sides. It is more than double the video board that was in the Tad Smith Coliseum.

Take the time to come out Thursday night to celebrate the grand opening of this state-of-the-art facility on the Ole Miss campus. If you can’t make it Wednesday night, Ole Miss plays Georgia at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in the Pavilion.