Cajun Field improvements said back on track in Lafayette

Home opener slated for August

Work on new end zone seating at Cajun Field is on track to be finished in time for the Ragin’ Cajuns football team’s home opener against the Southern University Jaguars at the end of August, officials say.

Wet and freezing weather this winter made for a difficult start, but the work is moving ahead to meet the Aug. 30 deadline for the first home game of the football season, said William Crist, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette physical plant director.

“We’re only 17 weeks away, so it’s a little tension-filled because there’s no room for error. We’re very pleased with the progress being made,” Crist said.

The project adds 5,900 more seats to the stadium’s existing 31,000 capacity and is the first of a trio of $21 million in construction projects targeting athletic facility improvements. The projects are funded by a combination of sources, including dedicated student fees and university revenues.

The two other projects — a new indoor practice facility, and construction of locker rooms and new offices for the soccer and track facility — will start this summer, Crist said.

Both projects are expected to be complete by May 2015.

The new athletics performance center adds more indoor practice space for athletics — more than 70,000 square feet — and features an auditorium and football program offices. New construction at the soccer and track facility includes concessions, offices for both teams and locker rooms.

The improvements are part of the university’s master plan for its athletics facilities. The planned projects total about $115 million, with funding for future projects to be raised through a capital campaign. The plan involves improvements across the athletic program, including the creation of a village-type atmosphere that connects the major athletic fields, as well as more improvements to Cajun Field.