Cajundome set for expansion, upgrades

Decking out the Dome

The Cajundome is set for a multi million-dollar upgrade next year, with plans to expand seating capacity and build a clubhouse that offers food, drinks and other amenities for a premium price.

The Cajundome Commission is preparing for a bond sale that could generate about $16 million for the work, debt that will be repaid with the Cajundome’s share of the parish’s hotel-motel tax, Cajundome Director Greg Davis said this week.

Davis said plans call for pulling out and replacing the old telescoping seating on the first floor of the arena and adding seats to the areas that are behind the goals during basketball games.

“The telescoping seats are almost 30 years old,” Davis said. “They have gone beyond their useful life and they must be replaced.”

The seating improvements will expand the capacity for concerts from 11,992 to 12,446 and expand the capacity for basketball games from 11,262 to 12,902, according to figures from Davis.

Getting seating capacity for basketball games above 12,000 will allow the Cajundome to bid on hosting regional NCAA basketball tournaments.

The planned clubhouse will be on the second floor of the arena, a place where patrons can enjoy catered food and drinks and quick access to special seating areas.

The rough estimate for the seating and clubhouse projects is about $15 million, according to figures presented at a Cajundome Commission meeting in December.

Any extra money could be used for smaller projects to spruce up the arena and adjacent convention center.

“The priority is to upgrade the arena and to do the clubhouse,” Davis said. “Based on how much those cost, we could do other projects if more money is available.”

Assuming the bond sale goes through this spring, work could begin in the fall, but the bulk of the project is expected to be done from May 2015 through October 2015, a period when the arena would need to be closed, Davis said.