LAFAYETTE, La. (RaginCajuns.com) - Nine projects that total $115 million and will serve as a blue print for the success and growth of intercollegiate athletics at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for decades to come, highlight the Athletics Facilities Master Plan. The plan was announced at a press conference on Thursday morning at the Alumni House on the Louisiana campus by University President Dr. Joseph Savoie, Director of Athletics Scott Farmer and 360 Architecture Principal Architect Nate Appleman.
The plan culminates a process that has examined the current and future needs of intercollegiate athletics.
"Our goal is to have the facilities to allow the Ragin' Cajuns athletic programs to continue to grow and compete against the nation's best," Farmer said.
"This project should be the most important thing that the Athletics Department has done in 50 years related to facilities," Farmer added.
"The University's Ragin' Cajuns sports complex will be transformed into a more vibrant space that will greatly improve fans' experiences, provide a wonderful resource to the larger community, and most importantly, raise the level of our athletics teams' ability to recruit and compete," Dr. Savoie said.
The list of projects has been broken into three tiers, or levels of priority.
The top tier of facility priorities include improvements to the soccer and track facility, seating and amenity expansion in the south end of Cajun Field, and the new Athletics Practice Facility which will be built adjacent to the Leon Moncla Indoor Practice Facility and the football practice fields.
"It is our plan to take these three projects to the UL System Board meeting in April for their approval, with a shovel going in the ground this summer," Farmer said.
The second tier of facility priorities include the remaining proposed improvements to Cajun Field and the renovation and expansion of M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field.
"These are two of the most expensive projects in the plan and it is our intention to start the process of finding design detail architects for both jobs in the coming months and determine a construction schedule so that we can implement them once all of the finances are arranged," Farmer said.
The final tier of improvements include a new sports plaza behind the south end of Cajun Field, renovation of the Academic Center, proposed improvements at Earl K. Long Gym and the Culotta Tennis Center and a new basketball practice facility.
"Each of these are stand-alone projects that we can build at any time without affecting the other projects in the plan. It is our intention to begin each once the funding becomes available," Farmer added.
"For the Athletics Facilities Master Plan to be a success, it will take a lot of work and support from all levels of the Ragin' Cajuns support base," Farmer said.
"The athletic budget has seen record increases over the last few years because of the generosity of our fans and supporters. It is important that we raise the money for the Athletics Facilities Master Plan without stunting the annual growth of the operating budget.
"The last several years has featured record-setting financial support from our fans, donors and corporate sponsors. I am asking everyone for even more help down the road.
"To paraphrase Coach Hudspeth, the Ragin' Cajuns need all of our fans and supporters to grab hold of the rope and pull hard so the department can move forward and complete all of these projects," Farmer added.
Here is a synopsis of the projects included in the Master Athletic Facilities Plan:
Renovation of Cajun Field
• Five construction phases that could ultimately raise capacity to over 65,000.
• The first step of the first phase is to add 5,900 seats to south end zone, allowing for the remaining expansion to be done without losing use of Cajun Field or playing a season with a diminished capacity.
• The main phase will feature the addition of a structure on the west side that will include 23,500 square feet of office space for the athletic administration, 1,200 club seats, 128 loge seats and 37 box suites. It will replace the current press box and include either changes or replacement of the current upper deck seating.
• Also included in the main phase is an upper level of seating on the east sideline, adding 9,546 seats that will bring capacity to 50,000.
Athletics Practice Facility
Located adjacent to the Leon Moncla Indoor Practice Facility and on some of the space currently being used for the football practice fields, the 71,000 square foot facility will create new space for athletic training, equipment and strength and conditioning and house the offices for the football program.
Football Amenities In The APF (24,000 square feet)
• Includes office space for head coach, assistant coaches and administrative and support staff.
• 4,800 square feet of meeting space, including a main auditorium that seats 130-150 people that can be broken down into multiple meeting rooms.
• Video editing suite and storage facilities that include video distribution and viewing areas for pro scouts.
• Locker room facilities for the football team, coaching staff and visitors.
Athletic Training In The APF (10,000 square feet)
• Includes office space for athletic training staff, doctor's office and exam room, a hydro-therapy room along with 3,500 square feet dedicated to treatment and rehabilitation.
Equipment Room In The APF (5,700 sf)
Almost 6,000 square feet of space located off the loading dock and receiving area that includes work space, offices for the full-time staff, expanded laundry facility, issue bins and equipment storage.
Strength and Conditioning In The APF (18,800 sf)
• Multiple weight room facilities that will allow more student-athletes to work out at the same time along with a common nutrition station.
• Primary facility covers 12,000 square feet which will handle student-athletes simultaneously, including space for agility, plyometrics and warm-ups.
• Current basketball court attached to indoor facility will be re-purposed into a 5,000 square foot secondary weight room.
• Cardio mezzanine connects the two facilities, sharing space with athletic training for use rehabbing and evaluation of injuries.
Track & Soccer Facility
• The current complex that serves as the home of the Cajuns men's and women's track teams and the women's soccer squad will get a face lift.
• Individual office space for each coaching staff.
• Individual locker rooms for each team will be either renovated or built.
Student-Athlete Academic Center
Covering 10,700 square feet of space, the space will provide a centralized location for all academic support. The center includes office space for the academic support staff, computer lab, classroom with theatre-style seating for 50, a primary study lounge with 12 private tutoring labs and a pair of medium-size tutor labs.
M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field
The home of Ragin' Cajuns baseball since 1978 will get a major renovation, increasing capacity to approximately 4,500 with at least 1,200 chair back seats. Additional improvements include:
• Nine luxury suites capable of holding 10 fans each.
• 1,500 square foot press box that includes two radio booths, a television booth and increased space for game management.
• Renovated baseball offices and locker rooms, adding a player's lounge and meeting rooms.
Basketball Practice Facility
Currently slated to be built on the southwest corner of Cajundome Blvd & Reinhardt, the 32,000 square foot structure will house the Louisiana men's and women's basketball teams. It will include:
• Basketball practice area that includes a regulation basketball court and several side baskets.
• Locker rooms for the team and coaching staff.
• Satellite Athletic Training room (1,200).
• Shared film room and video editing space.
Earl K. Long Gym
Opened in 1939, currently serving as the home of women's basketball and volleyball, historic Earl K. Long Gym will get a face lift. Renovating the existing space will project a more modern look.
Culotta Tennis Center
One of the newest athletic facilities, Culotta Tennis Center will get an update, building expanded locker room and office space, increasing outdoor lighting and creating a four-court indoor facility added to allow year-round practice and playing.
Golf Practice Facility
At a site to be determined in the near future, office and locker room facilities will be built to allow the Ragin' Cajuns a place to call home throughout the year.
Once the structure is finished on the west side of Cajun Field is completed, plans call for the Cox Communications Athletic Center to be demolished, opening up nearly four acres of space for the Sports Plaza.
The plaza will be a gathering point for activities in Cajun Field, the Culotta Tennis Center, M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field and Lamson Park, providing space where fans can gather and share the immense culture that Ragin' Cajuns athletics enjoys.