Bell tower part of stadium expansion

Published 12:01 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ole Miss football fans are accustomed to the sounds of the Grove on game day — the chatter of classmates reuniting, the laughter of children playing catch, the rousing horns and drums of the Pride of the South, the cheers as Rebels parade along the Walk of Champions — but in the 2017 season and beyond, one sound will be heard over all others: chimes.

“Our hope is that the bell tower can be seen and its chimes heard from one end of campus to the other,” said Bob Lloyd of Jackson. To support the construction of a stately new bell tower in the north end zone of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Lloyd, his brothers Ted and Ben, and their late father, William B. “Cosmo” Lloyd, have committed $1.3 million to the Forward Together campaign for Ole Miss athletics.

The tower is expected to be finished by early spring and dedicated during the Rebels’ spring game weekend. At more than 60 feet tall, it will be a focal point when walking from the Grove to Vaught Hemingway’s North End Zone Plaza along the new Gertrude C. Ford Way. The game day Walk of Champions will culminate with players walking through the Lloyd Bell Tower.

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“On game day, the special tone of the Rebel bell will signal game time — time to take that jovial Grove attitude and bring that energy to the Vaught with a swagger and confidence that says, ‘This is our day and our house!’” said Lloyd, a 1983 graduate of the UM School of Business Administration.

Lloyd presented the bell tower idea to the university in 2010, having been aware of traditions surrounding similar structures at other schools. About a year later, he received a call from Matt Mossberg, a development officer for Ole Miss athletics, saying the tower would be an outstanding addition to the north end zone expansion project.

“We really like this and are grateful to the Lloyds for helping to bring the idea to fruition,” Mossberg said. “The Lloyds want to be part of the fabric of Ole Miss athletics forever and we believe having this bell tower, which will bear their family name, is an impactful way to accomplish that.

“It will stand right in the middle of the pedestrian space of the Letter Winner’s Plaza, right in the footprint of the stadium. We can see fans rallying around the tower and hopefully starting a few new traditions in support of the Rebels.”

Adding to the experience
New traditions could include bathing the tower in red light and ringing the chimes every time the Rebels win a sporting event or having a Hotty Toddy celebrity ring the bell before asking fans the renowned game-launching question, “Are you ready?!”

“This is about creating an experience that gives recruits chill bumps when Ole Miss comes onto the field,” Lloyd said.

The Lloyds also hope the bell tower will serve as a reminder of achievement universitywide.

“We would like the bell to ring loud and proud for each and everything positive Ole Miss, such as a new Rhodes Scholar, a women’s volleyball victory, a professor being named best in the SEC, a new recruit commit, alumni being honored — any positive event that Ole Miss wants to celebrate,” said Ted Lloyd of Jackson, a 1976 business school graduate.