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Athletic Facilities: UL masterplan contruction under way

Tim Buckley, March 11, 2014 (reprinted on March 12, 2014)

Construction around the former site of the BlackJack Landry statue at Cajun Field. / Chad Washington/The Advertiser

It’s begun.

With Blackjack’s statue safely out of the way, much-awaited construction was under way Monday on the first project within Tier 1 of UL’s $115 million athletic facilities masterplan – the addition of new end-zone seats at the 40-plus-year-old Cajun Field.

Shrubbery was removed as part of initial demo, with scoreboard removal and the breaking up of concrete on the hill above the stadium’s south end zone to follow.

UL sports information spokesman Matt Sullivan said The Lemoine Company was responsible for Monday’s work.

After putting equipment in place last Friday, including a yellow backhoe that was hard at work once the weekend had passed, Monday was the first day of activity by the project’s Lafayette-based contractor.

“They should be setting up an office (at) the stadium this week and they’re gonna get rolling,” UL associate athletic director John Dugas said. “Lemoine doesn’t fool around. There should be a lot of progress in the next couple of weeks.

“Anything at the top of hill,” Dugas added, “is being removed.”

The statue of longtime UL football equipment manager Bill “Blackjack” Landry, ball in hand, has been a fixture on that concourse above the south end zone since it was dedicated in 2012.

The large cast figure is the only such one standing at Cajun Field.

But it was removed last month from its base, and is now in the hands of benefactors for safekeeping.

It will be returned to a location somewhere near Gate A of the stadium, Dugas said, after construction is done.

UL has budgeted approximately $21 million for Tier 1 projects.

That includes about $5.1 million for nearly 6,000 new end-zone seats that will be built first so fans can be accommodated when future expansion work takes place at Cajun Field, which is home to the three-time New Orleans Bowl-champion UL football team.

The stadium previously has had only grassy hill seating in that end zone.

Other Tier 1 projects include a new practice and performance facility that will also house coaches’ offices and a lockerroom for the UL football team, and a refurbished track and soccer facility.

Further Cajun Field expansion and renovation is part of Tier 2 in the three-tier masterplan, as is renovation and expansion at the nationally ranked UL baseball team’s M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.

The masterplan was unveiled last March, but it required various steps of approval, budget decisions and contractual agreement before the work now happening this week – almost one full year later – could begin.

Cajun officials expect the addition of the new end zone seating to be finished before UL opens its 2014 football season Aug. 30 vs. Southern.