The top brass at LSU did not exactly scrap the plan they had put together, they tweaked the fund raising plan, altered a few parts of its as well as its goals and re-presented it to the public last Wednesday in a special press luncheon.
Athletic director Skip Bertman walked the media through a half-hour
presentation and, along with associate athletic directors Herb Vincent and Dan
Radakovich, answered an array of questions from a packed media
Every head coach and most of their assistants were on hand to support the athletic administration and its release of a plan entitled A Vision for the Future, which will be presented to the LSU Board of Supervisors on August 21.
"Today LSU is taking an important and essential step to protect and to enhance the future of our athletics program," Bertman said. "This plan will keep LSU competitive with other top Division I-A programs that implemented similar programs many years ago."
The ultimate goal of the plan is to begin major renovations on Tiger Stadium, the Maravich Assembly Center and Alex Box Stadium as well as provide revenue for the operation of the athletic department, which is a self-sustaining entity.
"This plan will enable us to invest in our athletics facilities and put us on stable financial footing for the remainder of this decade," Bertman said. "It will allow us to take the necessary measures to keep LSU among the great athletics programs in the nation for many years to come."
LSU is proposing a three-part plan that would be effective with the 2004 season. The plan would enable LSU Athletics to invest in capital improvements to its facilities and help stabilize its financial operations.
The three-part plan includes folding current surcharges into a single price for all tickets in Tiger Stadium, the establishment of a Preferred Seating Program to generate new revenue and the utilization of lease agreements.
The linchpin of the plan is a Preferred Seating Program that would establish an Athletics Contribution on 45,197 seats in Tiger Stadium, with a higher contribution required on seats nearest the 50 yard line. The amount of the contribution, an annual obligation separate from and in addition to the full price of admission printed on the face of the ticket, would be scaled according to the best seats in the stadium and could be partially tax deductible to the season ticket holder.
The Preferred Seating Program would generate approximately $7.5 million more per year for the LSU Athletics program to be used for construction, renovation and maintenance of athletics facilities, and for financing the athletics program on an annual basis. As part of the plan, the athletics department would dedicate $500,000 annually to the repair of academic facilities on the LSU campus.
"This is an important and critical plan, not only for our athletics program, but for the entire University," said LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert. "LSU is committed to using no state tax money and no University academic funds for the operation of its athletics program and the construction of athletics facilities. This plan will ensure that all state funding that comes to LSU will continue to be dedicated to the academic mission of the University."
Of LSU's nine major athletics competition facilities, six are more than a quarter of a century old. Compared to investments made by other Southeastern Conference schools, many of which have spent millions of dollars on facility upgrades since the early to mid 1990s, LSU's capital construction has been relatively sparse since the original construction of the west side expansion of Tiger Stadium in 1979.
The Preferred Seating Program would enable LSU to generate new revenue necessary to make a significant investment in its athletics physical plant.
Planned improvements would include the renovation of the west side of Tiger Stadium, improvement of fan enjoyment elements throughout Tiger Stadium, construction of a stand-alone football operations center and the renovation of the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. LSU would also develop a plan for the future of Alex Box Stadium, Tiger Softball Park, the LSU Natatorium and other LSU athletics facilities.
The renovation of the west side of Tiger Stadium would include over 3,200 club seats and a new press box. Proposed improvements to the fan enjoyment elements in Tiger Stadium would include maintenance and repairs of all restrooms, repair and replacement of seats, cleaning, painting, and waterproofing of the 79-year old stadium to prevent leakage, replacement of the playing field and new entranceways by the opening game of the 2005 season.
"We're going to take the measures necessary to make Tiger Stadium more fan-friendly and to make this venerable and historic stadium a viable home for Tiger football for many years to come," Bertman said.
The new Athletics Contribution for seats in the bowl of Tiger Stadium would be $400 per seat annually for the right to purchase sideline seats between the 25 yard lines, $350 for the right to purchase sideline seats outside the 25 yard lines, $100 for the right to purchase sideline field box seats, and $85 for the right to purchase end zone seats.
West upper deck chairback seats during the 2004 season will require an annual per seat $150 contribution between the 25 yard lines and $85 outside the 25 yard lines for the right to purchase those tickets. There will be no contribution required for the right to purchase non-chairback seats in the west upper deck. There are over 5,700 non-chairback seats in the west upper deck.
The renovation of the west side of Tiger Stadium would be completed by the 2005 season. At that time, west upper deck seats would carry an annual per seat $250 contribution for the right to purchase chairback seats between the 25 yard lines and $200 for the right to purchase chairback seats outside the 25 yard lines. New Tiger Terrace seats would require a contribution of $400 for the right to purchase seats between the 25 yard lines and $350 for the right to purchase seats outside the 25 yard lines. There would be no contribution for the right to purchase west upper deck non-chairback seats.
East upper deck seats which currently require a $50 donation to the Tiger Athletic Foundation will not require an Athletics Contribution for the right to purchase those seats.
- LSU Sports Information contributed to this report