Glenn Guilbeau / Gannett Louisiana
BATON ROUGE Fewer people have attended LSU football games the last three seasons, but Tiger Stadium will still be bigger and reach a wider audience in 2014.
The south end zone expansion, a two-year job expected to be completed by Aug. 22, will increase the capacity to 102,321 in time for the Tigers' home opener on Sept. 6 against Sam Houston State followed by a Sept. 13 home game against Louisiana-Monroe. Tickets remain available for both of those games. LSU's first game on the new SEC Network will be that Sam Houston State game at 6:30 p.m. LSU opens the season on Aug. 30 in Houston against Wisconsin at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
In addition to 66 new suites, 3,000 new club seats and 1,400 additional regular seats, there will be two new video boards 67 feet high and 39 feet wide that will be within viewing range of the I-10 Mississippi River bridge as well as downtown Baton Rouge, according to LSU.
LSU's average paid attendance in 2013 was 91,418, which dropped from 92,626 in 2012 and from 92,868 in 2011. The last increase in attendance was from 2010, when the average was 92,718, to 2011.
'This is very exciting for our athletes and for the fans,' LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said during a recent tour of Tiger Stadium with reporters. 'It's going to be a great day when we open it up.'
LSU left tackle La'el Collins of Redemptorist High in Baton Rouge said the stadium expansion was a fringe benefit to him skipping the 2014 NFL Draft and staying for his senior season.
'They expanded our stadium, making it even louder, even bigger,' he said at Southeastern Conference Media Days last week. 'Why wouldn't I want to be a part of that one more time? Just coming out of that tunnel and walking down that long walk from the top of the hill to the stadium just doing that one more year is great.' Even rival players are looking forward to one more visit to Tiger Stadium.
'No doubt it's LSU,' Ole Miss senior quarterback Bo Wallace said at SEC Media Days when asked what away field he was looking forward to playing in one more time. 'My sophomore year, we got beat late in the game (41-35), but it was one of the most fun times I've had playing football. Tiger Stadium is a fun atmosphere to play in, especially being a rivalry game.'
Ole Miss visits LSU on Oct. 25.
LSU SIGNEE HURTS HIMSELF: True freshman defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao of Warren High in San Antonio, Texas, was likely going to be red-shirted in the 2014 season anyway. But now the chances of that are greater after he injured his left arm and was hospitalized in Baton Rouge, according to LSU, after punching a glass window in the LSU weight room.
Lealaimatafao, who is 6-foot-2 and 301 pounds, was the No. 26 ranked defensive tackle in the nation by Rivals.com last recruiting season and the No. 43 prospect in Texas. He tweeted a photo of himself with his left arm in a cast on Tuesday morning.
APPROACHING FOOTBALL DATES: LSU football players will report for the 2014 season on Sunday, Aug. 3 and open practice the next day. LSU Fan Day will be on Aug. 10. Classes start on Monday, Aug. 25, which will also be the first press luncheon of Coach Les Miles.