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Football: Long-planned Cajun Field renovation advances with ‘˜gift’™ from Our Lady of Lourdes

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, June 16, 2021

Click here for the university athletic fields  aerial view courtesy of Viznu.

Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center has secured naming rights for Cajun Field, home of the UL football team, with a commitment to invest $15 million over 15 years.

The facility will now be known as Cajun Field at Our Lady of Lourdes Stadium.

The investment will allow design plans for a long-planned major renovation project at the stadium to soon begin, according to UL athletic director Bryan Maggard.

“It has been a long time coming,” Maggard said.

“Ever since I arrived (in 2017) there’s been talk about this, you know? It’s taken a team effort to get here, without question. There’s been a lot of conversation about it over the years. I’m just very excited for Lourdes’ leadership to commit to this huge investment.”

A stadium overhaul has been planned since the university first announced a multi-phase athletic facilities masterplan in 2013.

“This certainly is a very significant milestone in a project that we’ve focused on for quite some time with the whole athletic complex,” said UL president Joseph Savoie, whose university already has had its softball, baseball, track-and-field and basketball venues undergo major renovations since the masterplan was unveiled.

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Relationship spurred investment

In March, UL’s College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions received a $20 million investment over the next 10 years from LHC Group that Savoie said was the largest single private investment in the university’s 123-year history and the largest investment in a single college.

The Lourdes commitment is the “largest philanthropic gift” in UL athletics history, according to program officials.

The deal also marks the first time the stadium has had a name sponsor. It comes at a time UL finished the 2020 season ranked No. 16 in the USA Today coaches poll.

“There’s a significant history here behind Our Lady of Lourdes and the university, and particularly the athletic department,” coach Billy Napier said. “If (the on-field success) did contribute (to the investment) we’re humbled by that, but I think more importantly we have a great working relationship (with Lourdes).”

UL president Joseph Savoie (left), hospital administrator Kathy Healy-Collier, coach Billy Napier and athletic director Bryan Maggard pose after it was announced Our Lady of Lourdes has acquired Cajun Field naming rights.
President Savoie pose with Kathy Healy-Collier, Lourdes Hospital administrator, coach Napier and athletic director Dr. Bryan Maggard at the announcement of the Our Lady of Lourdes had obtained the Cajun Field naming rights. Brad Kemp, photographer, Ragin’ Cajuns Athletics.

According to Maggard and Savoie, the renovation work would not be close to commencing had Lourdes not stepped forward.

“Our long history of alignment with the university continues to evolve because our organizations share a collective vision towards a bright future for the Acadiana community we both serve,” Kathy Healy-Collier, market president for the Acadiana region of Our Lady of Lourdes, said in a statement.

“Our partnership energizes all of our constituents, whether that’s community service, economic investment or personal health. We’re elevating Acadiana’s regional profile, attracting new students and businesses and showcasing the Ragin’ Cajun spirit.”

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New west tower planned at stadium

Once completed, the stadium project will mark the first extensive renovation of the stadium since it opened in 1971. New seats were added in one end zone shortly after the masterplan was made public.

Soon a new west tower at the renovated stadium will feature premium suites, a club level and club seats, loge boxes and a press box that will replace the outdated one currently standing.

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Premium suites will include indoor private seating as well as available outdoor seating for suite holders and guests. Other planned amenities include access to a climate-controlled club area, premium catered food and beverages, a cash bar and a suite attendant.

Loge boxes will feature private outdoor seating and include access to premium parking.

A new videoboard, lights, sound system, renovated westside seating, a new eastside façade and office space for the UL athletics department staff also are planned.