EDUCATION

Opinion: The view from here: What the construction of the Pavilion means for Oxford

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By Nathan Loe

As Oxford and the university grows, constant developments can cause inconveniences. One of the biggest developments in Oxford is the new basketball stadium and parking lot under construction that is causing traffic and parking inconveniences.

The construction of the new stadium off of Hill Drive has already disrupted hundreds of previous parking spaces. The university has remedied this temporary problem with a new lot on Hill Drive behind the track and field facility.

This lot solves the space problem, but many still consider it too far from the main campus to be considered a convenient solution.

“That’s my main means to get onto campus, and having all this construction makes it really hard to get my day going,” said Fabia McDonald, an Ole Miss student. “That’s a long way to walk. I may as well just take the bus.”

Construction workers redirect traffic on the road. They often stop or delay traffic so that equipment and trucks may pass into the construction zone with relative safety and ease.

This seems like a significant problem to Oxford residents considering the high volume the road sees, especially during the school year. The road was similarly impassable during the football season this year, which Oxford will see again next year if the project isn’t completed.

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Things are going to get worse in terms of traffic before they get better. Hill Drive will close to the public entirely following finals this week, and will not be open again until August of next year.

The main reasoning behind the road closure is safety. Over the next few months, there will be a massive amount of metal and concrete shipments arriving, and having the road open to the public is too much of a safety hazard.

The real question is whether or not these needs for parking and passage will be met by the new facility, and the simple answer is “yes.”

The new parking lot that is being erected next to the stadium will boast an additional 300 spaces, which more than matches the spaces lost in the construction process. This parking lot will be open before the Pavilion, and will actually be available for use following Christmas break in time for the spring semester.

Some want to know if the financial investment was worth it.

The C. M. Tad Smith Coliseum has been a staple of the Ole Miss Campus since its opening. It has been the location of the university’s basketball games and the location for various other activities and ceremonies, including many of the graduation ceremonies.

The “Tad Pad” has served the university well over the years, but a rapidly growing student population paired with an athletic program that is receiving national attention puts Ole Miss at need of larger facilities.

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Joe Swingle, associate athletics director for facilities and game operations, is overseeing the majority of the work done on the new facility.

Swingle appeared excited about the new features of the pavilion and seemed optimistic about its positive impact on the community.

“We are all really excited and, hopefully, we have a place that will be a destination spot around town,” he said.

The Pavilion that is underway will boast a massive 10,000 seating capacity, and will be similarly outfitted with all the space required, not only for record-breaking sports crowds, but graduation ceremonies as well, he said.

There will be an arena for sports and a social center for students, faculty and the general public.

This is the main difference between the new pavilion and the “Tad Pad.” It will not just be another venue in which to view sports, (though that is a large portion of its use), but it will become a vital part of student life.

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For the time being, the “Tad Pad” will remain open, and this adds space that can be used for events.

“Until the University decides to demolish the Tad Pad, it will be just another area that can be used by the town and University,” he said. “It will make graduation ceremonies a lot easier.”

The Ole Miss student population grows every year, and with that added population, there will be added opportunities for the town of Oxford to generate revenue.

This added opportunity has to be weighed against the inconvenience of change, but change is often necessary.

The small town of Oxford is about to get some big time renovations, and the citizens of Oxford need to be prepared for what changes that will bring, not only to the landscape of this town, but also to the daily lives of everyone here.

As a community, the people of Oxford have had to sacrifice a lot to make this facility a reality, and now, all we can do is wait and hope that it lives up to all the hype.

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