New mural placed near Main Street

Workers make the finishing touches installing a mural on the exposed wall of Restaurant Tyler. The mural showcases both the Mississippi State University’s Men’s and Women’s basketball teams. (Photo by Logan Kirkland, SDN.)
Staff Writer

Mississippi State University’s Athletic Department and the city of Starkville joined together to create a new art destination on Main Street.

There is now a mural, which features the MSU women’s and men’s basketball teams. The mural is on the exposed wall of Restaurant Tyler on South Washington Street. There is also a reference to both Starkvegas and Starkville’s slogan, “Mississippi’s College Town.”

The idea for the mural sparked from Daniel Watkins, the director of marketing and ideation for MSU athletic department.

Watkins said he got the idea from a professional women’s soccer team in Orlando where they had small murals when they made a playoff run.

Watkins also received inspiration from when he was in Oakland. He said the city embraced street art and art from the community and he thought Starkville should do the same.

“The community, the mayor, really embraced the idea,” Watkins said. “They said the bigger the better.”

Seeing the mural being a tangible sight, Watkins said it is comforting to have a city come together to push a project of this scale. He said it was probably a hassle, everyone was more than happy to be a part of the project.

Members of the community helped place pieces of the mural onto the wall. These people included Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols, Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Superintendent Eddie Peasant, MSU women’s basketball head coach Vic Schaefer, MSU men’s basketball head coach Ben Howland and many more.

Associate Athletic Director of marketing and fan engagement for Mississippi State Athletics Leah Beasley said the process was a whirlwind but she was “stoked” to see a small idea turn into something of this size.

Beasley said the wheels started turning and she thought this mural could be a regional and national project which could put Mississippi State as a university and athletics as a whole just to say “look at what we’re doing”.

“Seeing all of this come together, it warms your heart honestly,” Beasley said. “It involves all three parts of this group so athletics, campus and community.”

Since Mayor Lynn Spruill’s first day in office, she continues to mention the arts and having murals pop up around town. Main Street now has this new addition.

“To see this go up is just spectacular , I’m really excited because there is more of this to come,” Spruill said. “This is just the beginning.”

When the idea was brought to Spruill’s desk her response was how fast can the project be done and where will it be most visible.

Spruill said this is just one example of what can happen when the city, community and university come together to make Starkville a better place.

“It sends a wonderful message, It couldn’t be any better,” Spruill said. “I think it’s perfect, just perfect.”