What are Cajun Field renovation, Ragin' Cajuns project plans after COVID-19 pause?
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, Feb. 17, 2021
When the Acadiana economy was hit hard by COVID-19, plans for multiple Ragin’ Cajun construction projects went into hibernation.
The projects aren't expected to stay sleepy for long.
UL’s athletic department has run a deficit of more than $10 million the past two years, including nearly $6 million in fiscal year 2020.
Athletics director Bryan Maggard anticipates the shortfall could reach $8 million in the fiscal year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to adversely impact attendance and donations for the Ragin’ Cajuns and other NCAA institutions.
Despite the financial toll, fundraising for major facility capital projects — including renovations to Cajun Field, the school's aging football stadium — is proceeding, Maggard said.
“The big picture item, obviously, is raising money to renovate Cajun Field,” Maggard said last month, referencing UL’s football stadium.
The Cajuns had to hit pause
Those efforts went on hiatus for several months.
“Without question, last March, when COVID hit, we hit pause on the drill,” said Maggard.
Solicitations stayed on hold for more than seven months as the pandemic raged. They didn’t resume until sometime in November.
“We’re absolutely in full fundraising mode,” Maggard said. “We need to do so in an expeditious way so we can start the design process and get this thing moving.”
UL still has big plans
In December 2019, Maggard indicated UL would soon reveal long-awaited plans for renovation — costing between $45 million and $65 million — at Cajun Field.
The project was proposed as the centerpiece of the university’s athletic facilities masterplan in March 2013, when Scott Farmer — who retired as Texas Permian Basin’s athletics director last June — was UL’s AD.
STILL ON TRACK?:UL has big decision to make on Cajun Field renovation
Some renovation has been done, including major renovation of M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park and the addition of end zone seating at Cajun Field.
But now it’s uncertain when major Cajun Field reno work will begin. The same is the case for other projects, including a new clubhouse at The Tigue for UL’s baseball team.
If the pandemic hadn’t hit, Maggard said when asked, it’s possible least some of the remaining project work already would be underway.
“That would be a little bit of speculation,” said Maggard, hired in February 2017 to succeed Farmer.
“But … I think if COVID had not happened back then we might be several months ahead on that front.”
With fundraising started again, Maggard said venue enhancement remains in UL’s plans.
“Very much so,” he said, citing “Cajun Field, baseball clubhouse, our tennis courts and … renovation at E.K. Long (Gym) to enhance our volleyball facilities.”