Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Louisiana Economic Development grant during an event Friday that celebrated Waitr’s new downtown headquarters.
The generosity of Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns fans was felt - literally - at Louisiana-Lafayette’s athletic complex on Reinhardt Drive Monday afternoon.
A wall dividing the football locker room and a meeting room was torn down as the first phase of a refurbishing project for the complex got under way.
“This is the first step in a necessary project for athletics,” said Athletic Director Nelson Schexnayder. “We have to improve to remain competitive in Division I.”
In addition to Monday’s work, Phase I calls for a training room expansion along with more space allocated for the taping, rehab, hydrotherapy and treatment rooms. These projects will get started in the coming months.
More than $255,000 has been raised already for the $350,000 cost for Phase I. According to Athletic Development Director Gerald Hebert, donors are continually stepping up to help with improvements.
“Unfortunately, progress comes with a price. But our supporters are really standing behind these initiatives and backing them,” said Hebert. “We’re asking for help and so far, we’ve gotten really good feedback from the community.”
Among the ways supporters can contribute financially to the refurbishing projects is room-naming and equipment-naming opportunities. More than $115,000 has been raised through these endeavors.
In addition, former football players can help the current team with a locker sponsorship. More than 900 former football players are being sent mailouts describing the project this week. According to Hebert, for $500 former football players can receive individual recognition in a locker.
“This project will be built by football players for football players,” said Hebert. “Each sponsored locker will have the name of the former player, their jersey number and the years they played here. It’s a great way for these players to leave their mark on the future of Ragin’ Cajuns athletics and the sponsorships are totally tax deductible.”
Other phases of the athletic complex project includes doubling the size of the existing weight room and providing additional office space and a new Letterman’s Club addition at the front of the complex.
A few of the recent facility improvements for athletics paid for by donors and the university include:
• Brick wall borders erected on the first and third base side of Tigue Moore Baseball Field;
• New lights installed at Lady Cajuns’ Softball Park;
• New $50,000 marquee installed at the athletic complex entrance at the corner of Bertrand and Reinhardt Drive;
• Scoreboard renovation to an information center in the south end zone at Cajun Field;
• Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns logo discs installed at each entrance to athletic facilities;
• New walkway built in the south end zone at Cajun Field allowing fans to walk from one side of the stadium to the other; and
• Additional parking areas added to Cajun Field to better accommodate fans.
Many projects are currently in progress including:
• A $3.5 million indoor practice facility to be built;
• A $1.4 million track and soccer field complex to be built;
• A Letterman’s Walk to be created in the football tunnel at Cajun Field;
• Nine murals in Cajun Field created by local artists; and
• TV monitors to be installed in the concourse areas of Cajun Field.
“These are just a sampling of the many initiatives we currently have going on in athletic development,” said Hebert. “We’re still seeking donors for these projects and others that we have in progress. We’re hoping as people see the progress we are making, they’ll want to be a part of it.”
Pictured from left are Football Coach Rickey Bustle, UL Lafayette President Ray Authement and Athletics Director Nelson Schexnayder.