LAFAYETTE (AP) — The University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved, as expected, University of Louisiana at Lafayette's request for approval to proceed with the implementation of its $115 million athletic facilities master plan, including its first-tier projects.
The initial projects are a $5.17 million addition of 5,900 seats and amenities to the expanded south end zone area of Cajun Field, where the UL football team plays; creation of a two-story, $13.84 million 67,000-square-foot structure that will create new space for football coaching offices and include an athletic strength-and-conditioning center; an 8,000-square-foot visitor locker room facility; and $2.64 million in soccer/track facility improvements.
According to an executive summary of the projects, the first tier was proposed "riding the wave of recent success by back-to-back (New Orleans Bowl) victories by the football team," with funding for repayment on a loan for them coming from a student fee approved in 2003 that generate about $450,000 annually coupled with football season ticket licensing fees that will generate about $1.2 million annually.
The next step in the process is to accept construction bids for the projects on May 16, vote on the proposals May 22, submit the winning bid for board approval June 24 and sign a development contract July 11.
If there are no delays along the way, the school hopes to have shovels in the ground this summer. The added seats at Cajun Field are expected to be in place in time for the 2014 season, but not the coming season.
Other planned projects in the three-tier master plan include a remaining $57.53 million in Cajun Field stadium renovations that would bring seating, in phases, from its current 31,000 to 50,000, and $9.7 million in major reconstruction at UL's M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field baseball stadium, including improved grandstand seating, new box suites, state-of-the-art press facilities and a new team clubhouse.
Proposed third-tier projects include, when funding allows, $3.9 million in academic-center renovations, $3.36 million in tennis-center improvements, a new $5 million men's and women's basketball practice facility and $3.24 million in improvements at the women's basketball and volleyball teams' Earl K. Long gym.
State approval of the first-tier projects came during the board's regular monthly meeting in Baton Rouge, after facilities planning committee approval came Monday.
The university unveiled its much-awaited master plan in March.
Also this week, installation of a new artificial playing surface at UL's Leon Moncla Indoor Practice Facility - used extensively for football practices - is under way.
The UL System Board also approved Monday as expected, the contract of James Willis, the UL football team's new defensive coordinator.