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Baseball: Cajuns attendance rivals that of bigger schools

The Advertiser, June 4, 2014


The UL Ragin’ Cajuns defeat Mississippi St. 5-3 in the NCAA Regional final to advance to the NCAA Super Regional at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field in Lafayette, LA, Monday, June 2, 2014. UL will host Ole Miss in the Super Regional. (Photo: Paul Kieu, The Advertiser )

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns baseball team is attracting the same size crowds as bigger schools with bigger stadiums.

UL ranked No. 10 in both average game attendance and total season attendance out of the 52 teams in the NCAA Division I that had an average attendance of at least 1,200 people, according to a list compiled by Wichita State Athletic Media Relations.

The NCAA Lafayette Regional Tournament also ranked No. 5 out of the 16 regionals, with a total attendance of 25,442 for the seven games held over the weekend.

"It’s just phenomenal," said John Dugas, UL’s associate athletic director for internal affairs. "It’s showing now how proud our city is of our program and how much our fans support us."

Super Regionals: UL vs. Ole Miss schedule set

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Photo gallery: UL vs. Mississippi State

The average UL home game attendance for the 2014 season was 3,789 – impressive for a stadium that seats 3,755. The total attendance of all 37 home games held this season at M.L. "Tigue" Moore Field was 132,622.

The Ragin’ Cajun Nation will be able to cheer on the baseball team again this weekend as the team competes against Ole Miss in the NCAA Lafayette Super Regional.

That cheering might have to be done from outside of the stadium, however, because the longer the UL Ragin’ Cajun baseball season lasts, the tougher it gets to obtain game tickets.

"There are going to be some fans who want to purchase tickets who won’t be able to, but that has to do with the size of our stadium," Dugas said.

Like last weekend, the university will sell any empty seats and available standing room just before the game begins. Safety concerns limit the total number of people allowed in the stadium to about 4,000 people, Dugas said.

The NCAA requires more tickets be made available to Ole Miss fans in the Super Regional round than were allotted for visiting teams in the NCAA Regional Tournament.

But Ole Miss has already requested additional tickets from UL than the 600 the NCAA requires to be sold to the visiting team.

"It is what it is," said Bill Bunting, the associate director of athletics, media and public relations for Ole Miss. "That’s the privilege of hosting. That’s what you’ve earned – playing in front of your fan base at your stadium."

The Ole Miss baseball season is a kind of second football season for Oxford, Mississippi, Bunting said.

"They bring a football mentality to the baseball diamond," Bunting said. "We just had a crowd of 10,500 at our Sunday game. It’s like a football weekend, but in the spring."

Hilton Lafayette, the designated Ole Miss and ESPN hotel for the Super Regional, has filled up completely for Saturday night and has had to turn away some Ole Miss fans.

That, in part, is because of a continuing education seminar that is taking 150 rooms in the 327-room hotel.

The successful Ragin’ Cajun softball and baseball season has brought a lot of business to a typically slow time for the hotel, according to the general manager.

"It’s been unbelievable the last four weeks," Jimmy Thackson said.

Hilton Lafayette saw about a dozen cancellations last weekend when Mississippi State fans couldn’t get tickets to the Regional, and Thackson expects a few more this weekend, he said.

UL baseball season ticket holders who opted for Lafayette Regional tickets have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to finalize payment on Super Regional tickets. Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Fund donors who haven’t placed an order for the Lafayette Super Regional also need to do so by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

There may be a limited number of tickets available to non-season ticket holders for this Super Regional series. Any available tickets will be provided to Ragin’ Cajuns fans based on their 2014 RCAF Annual Fund giving level.

Fans can increase their chances of acquiring any available tickets by increasing your Annual Fund gift online by midnight today. Simply log on to RaginCajuns.com and click on the "RCAF" button. The Cajundome Box Office will contact you if you are eligible to purchase tickets Thursday.

Tailgating will be free at Cajun Field for the Super Regional, and tailgaters are asked not to take up more than a 20-foot by 20-foot area.

The need for a bigger baseball stadium is magnified during post-season games.

The expansion and renovation of Tigue Moore Field is a piece in the second tier of the UL Athletic Facilities Master Plan. Although the funding and time frame are not in place for that tier of the plan, Dugas hopes to see the expansion completed within three to five years.

Conceptual plans for the expansion include seating for 5- to 6,000 people.

"When you have an event like the Super Regional, it really pushes the limits of what we have now," Dugas said. "Obviously, events like this help get our fans pumped up, so we’re hoping that will help us raise the money quickly."