The Tiger Athletic Foundation Spring Championship Tour, underwritten by Merrill Lynch, will kick off in New Orleans on Thursday, March 21st, at the Sheraton Hotel. Doors open at 6:00pm for cocktails and the program begins at 7:30pm. Seating is limited and tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at 504-522-5555 or at www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are $50 and $20 for children under 14. Table sponsorships are also available through TAF at 225-388-9500.
The tour, which will also make stops in other cities around Louisiana, will feature Saban, Bertman and Major General R.G. Richard, USMC (Ret.) Chief executive officer of TAF.
The evening will feature an array of silent and live auction items including the chance to join the LSU team and fly on the team plane when the Tigers play at Florida in October, sideline passes and game memorabilia. Guests will also have the opportunity for photos and autographs with the players.
Ticket price includes heavy hors d'oeuvres, and a cash bar will be available.
Tiger fans will also have a chance to learn about TAF and its current and future role with LSU athletics. Bertman and Saban will address future plans for the LSU Athletic Department and why TAF holds the leading role to carry out these plans. Richard will explain how fans can get involved with TAF and play a vital role in shaping LSU's athletic future.
"Obviously we're excited about the future of the LSU football program," Bertman explained. "The interest and excitement caused by the success of the 2001 Tiger football team has created an unprecedented wave of interest, and this tour is a great opportunity to get Coach Saban and General Richard in front of our fans.
"We're also excited to bring some of our great athletes to New Orleans because they're the ones that make things happen on the field."
"Every great program has a great support system and TAF is the support system for LSU athletics," Saban said. "The Championship Tour is a perfect way for fans to come celebrate our championship season and to learn a little bit more about TAF."
Richard said New Orleans was a natural choice for the tour's first stop.
"New Orleans is the largest city in Louisiana and the ideal place to kick off the Spring Championship Tour," Richard said. "Folks around Louisiana are always excited about LSU football and our 2001 championship season has raised interest to an all-time high. We're excited to come to New Orleans to tell our story."
Bertman, long-noted for his fund raising prowess, praised Merrill Lynch for serving as the tour's main sponsor. Cable Rep Advertising and WWL Radio will serve as media sponsors for the New Orleans event. WWL's Buddy Diliberto will serve as Master of Ceremonies.
"We're proud to announce that a group of strong Louisiana corporate partners has stepped up to help sponsor the tour because it takes both corporate and individual support to make a great program," Bertman said.
According to Richard, "TAF is a group of dedicated individuals who believe in LSU and have banded together to make sure Tiger athletics is the very best program of its kind in America! TAF is a private, nonprofit foundation dedicated to supporting LSU and its Athletic Programs."
TAF has built a number of facilities in recent years but also provides athletic and academic scholarships, teaching awards, equipment, and other mediums used to support LSU Athletics.
Current and recent projects underwritten by TAF include: East Side Stadium Expansion, Academic Center for Student Athletes, Football Locker Room Renovations, Basketball Locker Room and Meeting Room Renovations, Martin Broussard Athletic Training Center, Strength and Conditioning Center, Updating Football and Basketball Scoreboards, Tiger Softball Park, LSU Soccer Complex, University Club Golf Course, and Mike the Tiger's new habitat.
Richard said one of the main goals of the tour is to educate Tiger followers of the many membership options available.
"There is a membership option to fit all Tiger fans," Richard said. "TAF memberships start at just $50 a year. Even LSU students can join TAF for a contribution of just $10 a year so we're trying get the word out so we can increase membership and keep LSU where it belongs, at the top."