By Beth Alexander
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Another landmark is being phased out at The University of Southern Mississippi to make room for parking.
Loyalty Field is a traditional tailgating site at USM, located between Hwy 49 and the university stadium, but this fall tailgaters will see a change of scenery as they will be moved to Pride Field.
"Actually, it's going to be a lot better situation for tailgate people," said USM Athletic Director Richard Giannini. "And then Loyalty Field will be better for those that are older, you know that don't want to tailgate as much. They may not need to walk as far to get to the game. So we're just replacing one area for the other."
Dick Vogel, executive director for the Eagle Club, agrees that moving to Pride Field offers a better, more shaded tailgating area which is also closer to the children's events.
An additional benefit is that this football season, Eagle Club tailgaters will be required to donate a minimum of $1,000 - a decrease from the usual $1,500.
There will still be a limited number of tailgating spaces on the edges of Loyalty Field, but USM Football Head Coach Larry Fedora said fans are lucky to have other options for tailgating.
"I think that a lot of us have become spoiled because we have such a tremendous parking situation here at Southern Miss," said Fedora. "At all the other universities I've worked at you can't park within miles of the stadium. So, we're very fortunate."
Loyalty Field will be turned into a temporary gravel lot in order to provide more parking spaces for students and employees. In the near future, it will be permanently paved for 220 spaces but will have grass islands for continued tailgating. This is in addition to a 1,200-space parking garage that will be completed in fall 2010.
University officials said other game day parking changes include: motor home parking, which has been moved to the Payne Center parking lot south of West 4th Street; some Eagle Club patron parking moved or expanded to a new gravel lot north of Hillcrest Dorm and Elam Arms; assigned car parking and tailgating spaces will be placed along Pride Field in the Payne Center lot and along Golden Eagle Avenue.