A federally funded project when it was constructed in 1915, the stadium was first named after Judge William Hemingway, a professor of law and chairman of the university’s athletics committee. “Vaught” was added to the name in 1982 after Johnny Vaught, a legendary Ole Miss coach. In 1998 the field was named after Dr. Jerry Hollingsworth, a long time supporter of the school making the full name of the venue Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at Hollingsworth Field.
The Ole Miss team also played many of its big rivalry games against Louisiana State University, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Memphis, and Arkansas at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi prior to the early 1990s to accommodate a larger crowd. A series of expansions and renovations since the early ‘90s has made it possible for the Rebels to play all of its home games there.
In December 2015 a major construction project will start and a bowl of seats will be added to the north end zone, which will push capacity to 64,038, and 30 luxury suites and 770 club level seats will be added to the south end zone.
As a result of the renovation, the student section, which was in the south end zone, will be moved to the north end zone. Plans also call for the Manning Center to be renovated and a new track and field complex will be added. Construction is expected to be complete in time for the start of the 2016 football season and will cost $175.5 million.
An upper deck on the west side of the stadium will be added if more capacity is needed.
The Grove, which takes up 10 acres of the center of the University of Mississippi campus, is surrounded by oak, elm and magnolia trees and has become a major area for tailgate parties on Saturday, when Ole Miss games are played.
Tailgating in The Grove began in the 1950s when the most serious pre-game activities were taking place at the fraternity and sorority houses. Since then it has grown and now could be one of the best, if not the best, game day experiences in the entire country.
As many as 25,000 fans gather at The Grove and they first begin to arrive at noon, the day before the game. A tranquil space on campus during any other day of the week, The Grove becomes a commotion of red, white, and blue tents with Ole Miss students dressed in their Sunday best –- slacks, button-up shirts, and bow ties for the men and cocktail dresses or bright colored sundresses and high heel shoes for the ladies.
Many of the tents are accessorized with luxury kitchenware, lace and designer dollies, fine china, chandeliers, and sterling silver or silver-plated utensils. The food is expertly laid out on tables with tablecloths and sterling silver or silver-plated servers.
The foods served there include hors d’oeuvres, barbecue, and traditional southern fare like fried chicken, pork, homemade dressing, mashed potatoes and stuffed eggs.
At a specific moment of the pre-game festivities someone will yell, “Are you ready?” and the fans present all chant the Hotty Toddy Cheer:
Hotty Toddy, Gosh almighty
Who the hell are we, Hey!
Flim Flam, Bim Bam
Ole Miss, by damn!
They go over-the-top naming the bathrooms in the vicinity of The Grove “Hotty Toddy Potty” and “Hotty Toddy Potty Too.
In a tradition started by Ole Miss Head Football Coach Billy Brewer, the entire Ole Miss football team walks through the center of The Grove on game day. Now referred to as “The Walk of Champions,” the area includes a “Walk of Champions” arch on its east side that was constructed in 1998.
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium is also the site of the annual spring intrasquad scrimmage called The Grove Bowl. The team is divided into two squads –- one the red team and the other the blue team –- and they play a full contact football game. Tickets are sold for the game and The Grove is alive with fans just as if it was a regular season contest. In 2009 the game attracted a crowd of 28,375.
Ole Miss has played in 36 bowl games and has a record of 23-13.
- 1962 Cotton Bowl, lost to Texas 12-7
Ole Miss’ best season was in 1962 when it went undefeated, won the Southeastern Conference Championship, and was National Champion.
Overall Record of Ole Miss Rebels: 625-482-34
image courtesy of olemisssports.com