Cajun Field’s major renovation won’t begin until sometime after the end of the 2022 football season, at the earliest, Louisiana athletic director Bryan Maggard said.
The financing and fundraising/revenue generation components of the long-awaited project are still not in competition, and its design component has not started.
“Although the three are related, they are also separate,” Maggard told the Daily Advertiser.
“We know that we are looking to start the design phase in the not too distant future. I think we’re just around the corner from that. I know we have university leaders working on the funding side. …And (the athletic department) is heavily involved in ongoing fundraising and finalizing our strategies to sell premium seats.
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The $45-65 million stadium renovation is the main element of UL’s sports facilities master plan originally introduced in 2013.
Other parts of the plan have been completed, including the renovation of the baseball stadium and athletics/football facilities, but the football project has been beleaguered by setbacks, including multiple economic downturns due to the oil industry and local gas and COVID-19.
It was planned at one point that construction would begin this summer, but that is no longer the case.
Finances are halfway, costs are rising
“We’re hoping that (starting the design phase) will help keep us on track, but we’ve seen material and labor costs go up,” Maggard said. “We know that there are factors that did not exist a few, three years ago.
“To say it hasn’t impacted our progress, I would be remiss to say. But, at the same time, we are doing everything we can to keep moving forward.
Fundraising continues to UL, which has already sold the stadium’s naming rights to Notre Dame de Lourdes Regional Medical Center for $15 million over 15 years; announced the receipt of a $2 million pledge from IberiaBank which secured the naming rights for the stadium’s West Hall and future sports administration offices; announced a seven-figure donation from MacLaff, Inc., which owns and operates several South Louisiana McDonald’s restaurants; and received a $1 million donation from Home Bank, part of which will be used for the project.
The same goes for financing, which involves issuing loans and securing bonds.
“As soon as possible, any kind of demolition could happen after the 2022 season,” Maggard said, “but you need to have all your funding in place before you can start demolishing anything.
“We are more than halfway (with funding). We just need to iron out all the details with the lender and finalize what else we need to get the line of credit, so to speak, that we’ll need to get started. So we’re not far away. But, at the same time, it is difficult to establish a definitive timetable. »
UL, which finished last season nationally at 13-1 after a New Orleans Bowl win over Marshall, opens the 2022 season Sept. 3 against Southeast Louisiana at Cajun Field and plays its final game at home. regular season on Nov. 10 against Georgia Southern.
However, the Cajuns, defending Sun Belt Conference champions, could possibly host the league championship game in December if they qualify for the fifth straight time as the Western Division championship.
Maggard also said UL was getting quotes and putting together concepts for a new batting and pitching facility for the baseball team.
UL was working to secure funding for a new clubhouse for the home team at ML “Tigue” Moore Field in Russo Park, but that is no longer the top priority.
“The second phase would be the club and coaching offices (now),” Maggard said, “but (coach Matt Deggs’) priority is player development.”
Maggard didn’t know when this project would begin, but he assumed it wouldn’t be until September.