In 2013 the Louisiana Athletics Department released its facilities master plan. Around that time, the Cajuns were getting national recognition for winning back-to-back New Orleans Bowls. Louisiana looked like it would be the next big Group of 5 school to make it into the national spotlight – following in the footsteps of schools like Boise State.
Back on campus however, there was a dire need for capital improvements. Most athletic facilities had not seen any significant updates in decades.
Behold the Master Plan.
Released in 2013, the facilities master plan was to serve as a basic guide for fundraising and establishing priorities, as the university began giving its athletic facilities a facelift. Over time as the multi-phase $115 million plan was put into place, some minor tweaks and changes were made.
Most notably, the “fan plaza” originally planned for the present site of the Cox building near the South endzone, has been set aside indefinitely according to Athletic Director Bryan Maggard.
But for the most part, there haven’t been any major departures from the original plans. Early renderings of baseball stadium renovations for instance, are pretty comparable to the end product we have today at Russo Park.
That could all change according to a shocking revelation, buried about midway through a recent AL.com article:
Maggard is banking that he can, saying the university is preparing to conduct a feasibility study on a new football stadium with the hope Napier could transform the Ragin’ Cajuns into a championship outfit in one to three years.
Maggard’s comments are the first public indication that the Cajuns could be looking to a more drastic upgrade of their football facilities.
According to the original 2013 master plan, Cajun Field renovations would take place in multiple phases over several years. In addition to expanding capacity to around 65,000, original renderings indicated plans for a closed-in second level.
However, since 2013 only the first phase of renovations to Cajun Field has been executed – with the “closing in” of the stadium’s South endzone. That project was completed in 2014, expanding capacity to around 40,000.
Since that time, other capital projects within the university’s athletics footprint have been prioritized, leaving Cajun Field renovations on hold for the past several years.
Maggard’s recent comments may indicate that the university plans to pivot from the original plans significantly – opting for something brand new instead of an expansion.
The comments also appear to conflict with the local rumor-mill. Recently, the talk-of-the-town has revolved around plans for the Cajun Field press box – with the prevailing theme being that its renovation should be completed within the next few years.
With Maggard’s recent remarks however, many fans may be left to wonder what’s in store.