Construction to bring Tiger Stadium’s capacity to near 100,000 with a project on the facility’s south side isn’t scheduled to begin until after the final home game this season.
But that doesn’t mean the old gray lady on Nicholson Drive hasn’t been getting a major makeover in recent months in preparation for the upcoming season.
A new perimeter around the west side of the stadium, a new façade on the exterior of the north end and new field inside are all part of the continuing efforts to beautify and upgrade the iconic structure as it nears its 90th birthday in 2014.
“We’re never going to build another Tiger Stadium,” LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said, “so we need to take care of the old stadium and fix it up.”
Workers have spent much of the offseason tearing out the concrete walkway and fencing alongside the west upper deck. In its place will be a new set of entrances (six gates in all) flanked by large concrete posts, which are going in now. They will be connected by a new wrought-iron fence, which replaces the old chain-link fence running from the southwest corner of the stadium to the Lawton Room on the northwest corner.
On the north side of Tiger Stadium, where LSU recently replaced 428 rusting windows, a project has just been completed to resurface the exterior concrete that faces North Stadium Drive, counteracting the effects of weathering on a section of the stadium which was built in 1936.
“It’s something that’s long overdue,” said Eddie Nunez, senior associate athletic director for internal affairs. “It really looks great.”
All told, the two projects will cost about $7 million, Alleva said, which he said has been paid through private donations.
“It’s the most visible venue on our campus,” Alleva said. “When people come here for the first time, they want to see Tiger Stadium, so I want their first impression of LSU to be right. To do that, we need to fix it up and make it a beautiful, attractive venue. That’s what we’re trying to do. Piece by piece, we’re going around the whole stadium and fixing it up.”
Meanwhile, inside the stadium, new sod is already down to replace the playing surface in the wake of May’s third annual Bayou Country Superfest concert. The contract between LSU and Festival Productions, Inc., calls for the concert promoter to replace the field each year at no cost to LSU.
Construction on the south end zone project is still set to begin shortly after LSU’s final home game with Ole Miss on Nov. 17. The project will add 3,000 club seats, 60 suites and 1,500 upper deck seats, plus standing-room-only space that will bring Tiger Stadium’s capacity to just above or below 100,000. The addition will also include two large video scoreboards.
The project is expected to be complete in time for the 2014 season. Meanwhile, Alleva said workers will also replace the broken concrete on the walkway around the north end of the stadium between the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
LSU early favorite
The Golden Nugget sports book in Las Vegas released betting lines on 111 college football games earlier this week, including eight games involving LSU. The Tigers are favored in each one.
LSU opened as a 21-point favorite Sept. 8 against Washington, a 10½-point favorite Sept. 22 at Auburn, a 7½-point favorite Oct. 6 at Florida, an 8-point favorite Oct. 20 at Texas A&M, a 2-point favorite over Alabama on Nov. 3, a 17-point favorite over Mississippi State on Nov. 10, a 26-point favorite over Ole Miss on Nov. 17 and a 3-point favorite at Arkansas on Nov. 23.
Tigers No. 1 overall
LSU earned the No. 1 spot in only one of four preseason football magazines, but the Tigers are tied for the consensus No. 1 based on their overall ranking.
LSU is No. 1 according to Lindy’s, No. 2 according to Phil Steele (power ranking) and Athlon and No. 3 by USA Today, for an average ranking of 2.00.
Southern California also came in with an average 2.00 ranking (1. Athlon, 2. Lindy’s, 2. USA Today, 3. Phil Steele). Alabama was third at 2.75, followed by Oklahoma and Oregon at 4.75.
LSU’s showdown with Alabama in Tiger Stadium is more than four months off, but that didn’t stop Tiger cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron from engaging in an exchange of heated tweets earlier this week.
Mathieu launched the first barrage, telling McCarron: “try throwing a corner route or a cross country on me this year!!! i’ll be waiting!!!”
McCarron shot back with: “U can talk ab(out) stopping something. But actions speak louder than words. Remember that. #neworleans #14”
The hashtags were references to Alabama’s 14th national championship, won in New Orleans over LSU 21-0 on Jan. 9.
“Everybody have a good game every now and then try having a great season back 2 back 2 BACK! DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIP NOT YOU,” Mathieu fired back. He also tweeted: “you have 1,THE school has 14! you play your part well thanks to great coaching! but anyways we’ll talk nov 3rd!”
“Ur right the TEAM,” McCarron replied. “That’s how we play as a TEAM.. We stick together through our losses and wins.#thatswhatmakesusgreat #wehave14”
Mathieu claimed — somewhat incorrectly, according to the Golden Nugget — that LSU was “highly favored in DEATH VALLEY!” come Nov. 3.
After Alabama teammate Kenny Bell chimed in, McCarron tried to bring the exchange to a close, tweeting: “Bama fans don’t talk anymore ab it. Let’s just sit back quietly and wait our turn. Y’all know the date. It’s comin. #november3rd #bamanation”
Mathieu has since deleted his part of the exchange from his Twitter page.