LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette could start work on $115 million in new construction and improvements of its athletic facilities as early as this summer.
The projects to improve facilities for student-athletes and fans are outlined in a master plan for athletics that was developed over the past eight months to address current and future needs of all athletic programs, Athletics Director Scott Farmer said. The master plan was unveiled Thursday during a news conference held at the Alumni Center.
"Our goal is to have the facilities to allow the Ragin' Cajuns athletic programs to continue to grow and compete against the nation's best," Farmer said.
The plans involve major renovations to Cajun Field and development of an athletic "village" that connects the other athletic fields to create a sense of community for fans and athletics, said Nate Appleman, principal with 360 Architecture, the firm that developed the plan.
The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/WPhGz5 ) a capital campaign to fund the master plan will be announced later this spring.
Farmer said the athletics department is "putting together funding for the first tier" of projects and a plan is under way to fund the second tier of work. An existing fee for athletics improvements will help fund some of the work, he added.
Naming rights for some of the new projects will be a way to generate some revenue, he said.
Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel encouraged the public to support the improvements.
"If we want good, if we want great, it's not free and it's not cheap," Durel said.
The improvements benefit the community, as well, university President Joseph Savoie said. The university's Cajun Field is used for high school football jamborees and band competitions and the Cajundome attracts conventions and concerts that attract interest across the state, Savoie said.
The university's own master plan calls for the development of university property near the athletic complex to create an "entertainment region" that will also generate revenue, he said.
"The idea is to create a destination point for the region and the state," Savoie said.
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com