Athletics: Cajuns to consider facilities masterplan options
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, August 17, 2017
Administrative and staff members of the UL athletic department have been relocated to a temporary office while the issue of where they’ll work permanently is being addressed.
Where will that be?
One possibility that will be considered would involve a major alteration to the $115 million athletic facilities masterplan unveiled by the school in 2013.
The original plan was to raze the Cox Communications Center, where the department previously was housed, and eventually relocate to 23,500 square feet of office space on the west side of Cajun Field after the stadium underwent major renovation and expansion by 9,546 seats that would bring capacity to 50,000.
The athletic administration offices, according to that plan, would be part of a main-phase structure also featuring 1,200 club seats, 37 suites and a new press box.
A plaza also was to have been constructed in the area where the Cox Communication Center still stands — surrounded by Cajun Field, UL’s renovated baseball stadium, an indoor football practice facility and the school’s recently constructed athletics performance center.
Now, according to UL athletic director Bryan Maggard, one option that will be examined is for athletic department offices to instead be built on top of the one-story Cox building, and for the previously proposed gathering-area plaza to be developed elsewhere.
“Certainly a topic on the table will be, ‘Do we look at keeping the existing footprint of the Cox building, and then also maybe going up?’ ” Maggard said. “But then you’ve got to look at, ‘Structurally, can the building support that?’
“If it can’t, you’ve got to evaluate cost associated with adding in that support, or ‘Does it make sense to level the Cox building, and then build it back up?’ ”
Additional possibilities, Maggard said, are for the first floor of the Cox building to be used for student-athlete support services — an academic center, dining hall and/or office space for support staff, for example — or the construction of a satellite weight room/training room there.
But nothing, Maggard indicated, is set in stone yet.
Moreover, he suggested, being part of a new structure on the front of Cajun Field has not been ruled out either.
Discussion of the matter by athletics representatives, campus leadership and campus facilities personnel is expected to begin sometime later this year, probably sometime in the fall.
“No final decisions on anything have been made whatsoever,” Maggard said, “other than we know we have to sit down and revisit the masterplan, and evaluate what the current plan looks like, and if we feel like, ‘Does that best suit our needs? Is that what’s best for us moving forward?’ or ‘Do we need to take a look at some different ideas and incorporate different ideas to move forward?’
“It’s one of those be-quick-but-don’t-hurry deals. But we do need to get moving on that, and that’s certainly going to be a high priority of mine.”
No timetable has been set for completion of whatever option is chosen.
For now, then, Maggard and other administrative personnel who had been working out of the Whittington House near campus and sports communications staff and others who had remained in the Cox Communications Center have all moved into the LITE Center on Cajundome Boulevard in Lafayette.
Why move staffers out of the Cox Center now if no decision has been made yet?
“I wanted to get the administration — that side of it — together, so we can operate as one unit, and not be so spread out,” Maggard said.
“And (I) just wasn’t ready to pull the trigger to move everybody to the Cox building … right now, because that’s going to incorporate another move later.”
Several elements of UL’s masterplan have been completed, including construction of the athletics performance center, soccer/track facility renovations, the baseball stadium renovation, a new golf facility and the addition of new seats in one end zone of Cajun Field.
New artificial turf currently is being installed at the stadium. UL coach Mark Hudspeth said installation was delayed a bit by inclement weather, but the field is fully expected to be ready in time for the Cajuns' Sept. 2 opener against Southeastern Louisiana.
Major expansion at Cajun Field, however, is dependent on further fundraising and financing — with no timetable for that project having been made known either.
In other UL athletic department developments:
►Representatives of several companies interested in contracting for multi-media rights with UL — overseeing the distribution of the athletic department’s various sellable assets, including but not limited to advertising and broadcasting of games — recently toured the school’s facilities as part of its solicitation for offers.
Sometime around late September or early October, interested companies will make bid presentations.
The selection process is expected to be completed sometime late this year.
►A proposed contract between UL and Townsquare Media calls for the Cajuns’ longtime radio partner to pay $40,000 for football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and softball rights during the 2017-18 school year.
The deal, as proposed, also calls for Townsquare to be required to buy season tickets for football (140, including 40 chairback seats), basketball (90, including 50 on Level), baseball (50) and softball (40).
The proposed contract has been in the negotiation phase, according to Maggard.
►Maggard said UL has extended its apparel contract with Adidas with the renegotiated pickup of options for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years.
The two sides originally agreed to a five-year deal (including the two option years) starting in 2014-15.
As part of the renegotiation, the Cajuns picked up a $55,000 merchandise increase for this season and an additional $195,000 merchandise increase for next season, according to Maggard.
That’s a total bump from $250,000 according to former terms for the two years to $500,000 in merchandise now, Maggard said.
►Maggard said UL has decided that its primary logo will be the stacked one with Ragin’ on top and Cajuns below, with Louisiana as a secondary choice and the fleur de lis logo as its third.
Vermilion and white are UL’s official colors, with vermilion being primary, while black will be used mostly as a trim, according to Maggard.
►The RFAC — fundraising arm of the UL athletic department — has been updating its Priority Points tally for seating purposes, and will update individual accounts online once correct priority status and point totals are amassed.