If you thought navigating traffic around campus for the opening game against Wofford was a nightmare, just wait until the University of Mississippi hosts Alabama this Saturday.
With only 12,000 parking spaces, it’s like having 30 family members and friends for a holiday visit packed into a three bedroom home. While woefully inadequate, sleeping bags line the floor and padded pallets on every flat service attempt to accommodate the many guests.
Come Game Day, fans are left to their own creativity to find parking options.
This dilemma has created a cottage industry for many organizations with a parking lot near Ole Miss. Area churches and ministries especially benefit from the lack of adequate parking.
Located 2800 feet from the Grove & 3900 feet from Vaught-Hemingway stadium, the Wesley Foundation at 425 Jackson Ave W see’s a major spike in revenue from wayward fans.
Director Rev. Eddie Willis, says their lot can hold 115 cars and a few RV’s.
“Our associate to students, Alex Crosby, mapped out the lot to maximize our space,” Willis said. “College students help us work the parking lot.”
In exchange, students earn credit towards the expense of mission trips and other events.
A-matter-of-fact, funds from Game Day parking enabled the Wesley Foundation to host a concert featuring Christian music artist Ellie Holcomb.
Baptist Student Union
Even closer to campus is the Baptist Student Union located at 423 S 5th St. With 36 available parking spaces, BSU charges $500 for season parking passes.
Director Mo Baker says they’ve been sold out for several weeks.
“God has really provided for us with our location,” Baker said. “We’re really one of the only BSU’s in the state that has this kind of opportunity.”
In previous years the First Baptist Church has managed the lot and shared a percentage of the proceeds. Baker contends this is the first year the BSU has overseen the complete management of the parking lot.
“The funds help us hire more interns and provide more outreach events,” Baker said.
Second Baptist Church
The Second Baptist Church at 611 Jackson Avenue has utilized its lot for years to raise funds.
James Ivy, Jr, who oversees Game Day parking for the church, says its lot holds about 75 cars.
At $25 to $30 per car, Ivy says the funds have blessed the church.
“When the economy went down so did our funds,” Ivy said. “A lot of people were being laid off which hurt our giving.”
Oxford First United Methodist Church
While many area churches contend parking funds enhance outreach efforts, Pastor Chris Diggs of Oxford First United Methodist Church at 600 Molly Barr road (formerly Burns UMC and Hammitt Hill), says parking revenues have literally helped keep the church functioning.
“The funds help our general budget in making ends meet,” Diggs said. “Without the parking money, we would be hard-pressed to keep the doors open.”
When Diggs was appointed as pastor in 2013, the church only charged $5.00 per car. Most would agree, even for a church that fee was too low.
At the encouragement of HottyToddy.com founder Ed Meek, the church raised its fees, added RV parking and moved its payment and reservation system online.
Oxford First UMC has space for roughly 125 cars. It charges $20 for non-SEC games and $40 for SEC games.
So Rebel fans, while Ole Miss advances the ball in the stadium, that space your car might occupy, just may advance the mission of a different kind.
By Russ Jones HottyToddy.com Editor-In-Chief. He can be reached at email@example.com
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