RUSTON — One year after the opening of the Davison Athletics Complex – the cornerstone of the Quest for Excellence capital campaign – Louisiana Tech Athletics Director Tommy McClelland unveiled the plans, renderings and timeline for the newest phase of facility improvements at Joe Aillet Stadium.
During a lunchtime press conference in the Jarrell Room of the Davison Athletics Complex Tuesday, McClelland revealed that a new $16.7 million press box and guest suite facility would be built. An additional $2.1 million will be invested in other stadium improvements, including LED lighting, a permanent west side ticket booth, renovations to the west side bathrooms and aesthetic improvements to stadium entry points.
The total price of $18.6 million for the various improvements will be funded 100 percent through private donations.
The cost of these additions combined with the money spent on construction of the Davison Athletics Complex and installation of new field turf last year means over $40 million will have been invested in the facility in a three-year time frame. All of the $40-plus million total has been generated through private investment and other non-state revenue sources.
“We are making a commitment to our program, our institution and our fan base,” McClelland said. “Dr. (Les) Guice has a vision for this University. His goal is an enrollment of over 15,000 students by 2020. Thus, that is our goal and No. 1 priority as well. As the University has committed to spending the necessary dollars on improvements to the academic side, we have made the same commitment on the athletic side. The two go hand-in-hand when it comes to the recruitment of top caliber students.”
The University has spent in excess of $55 million over the past few years on improvements to student life such as construction of the new business building as well as additional student housing and other various academic infrastructure projects.
Demolition of the existing press box built in 1968 and sky box built in 1988 would begin November 14 following the final home regular season football game against UTSA. McClelland said that if the Bulldogs qualify to host the Conference USA championship game this year, the game would be played at Independence Stadium in Shreveport which has been reserved for the first week of December.
McClelland said that the new facility which will stretch from the 10-yard line to the 10-yard line will be completed in time for the home opener in 2017, a season in which Louisiana Tech hosts seven home games including SEC foe Mississippi State and in-state foe Northwestern State.
“The luxury suites that will be a part of this project will provide us with an additional revenue source that will help us annually. We want our fans and alumni to enjoy the game-day experience and many of these improvements will add to that experience.
“The new state-of-the-art press box will also provide our media partners, locally, regionally and nationally, with the communications and accommodations necessary to effectively cover Louisiana Tech and highlight our athletics programs and institution. We want them to have a positive experience and provide them the facilities and access they need to do their jobs. It’s a win-win for us.”
The project is led by Ruston-based contractor Lincoln Builders while the design team includes TBA Studio as well as a sports specific architect firm, Gensler.
The new two-level facility will include luxury suites, press box and all of the booths needed for national television broadcasts, radio broadcasts, and the various game-day components (coaches booths, AD suites, security, scoreboard, public address, instant replay, media rights holder suite, and more).
“One of the cornerstones of Louisiana Tech’s strategic vision for the future is building state-of-the-arts facilities that will help us to attract top students, faculty, staff, and corporate partners,” said Louisiana Tech President Les Guice. “As part of a broad and comprehensive university growth strategy, these facilities, which are being built across our entire campus, also bring national attention to Louisiana Tech which affords us opportunities to highlight our athletics, academic, research, and entrepreneurial strengths as well as showcasing the achievements of our campus community.
“I want to recognize the leadership of our University Foundation who has made it possible for us to privately fund this particular project and to elevate Louisiana Tech’s national standing, both institutionally and athletically.”
The new facility will be approximately 30,000 square feet, more than four times the square footage of the existing press box and sky boxes. With 100 percent private funding for the project, Louisiana Tech is able to maximize and focus state resources on academic and research programs, student support and services, and campus operations.
“The leadership of the Louisiana Tech University Foundation seeks opportunities to partner in innovative ways to move the University’s vision forward,” said Brooks Hull, vice president for Louisiana Tech University Division of Advancement. “This project is another example of collaboration that celebrates the partnership that private support can have in shaping the future for our university.”
The Quest for Excellence campaign which started in 2010 has allowed the University’s athletic department to follow in the campus’ footsteps of continuing to upgrade its facilities. Theses upgrades are all part of the University’s masterplan, Tech 2020.
The first floor of the newest facility will house 13 luxury suites plus the Presidential Suite. Each one of the luxury suites will hold 20 supporters and will include 12 outdoor seats, indoor lounge furniture, a kitchenette area and a big screen TV. Patrons will gain access to these luxury suites through a club area which will be used for catering food and beverage.
The second level of the new construction will include a two-level media work area, two times the square footage of the existing press box (seats 60). The second floor will also include home and visiting AD suites along with a suite for the University’s media rights partner (Learfield), and booths for home and visiting coaches, home and visiting radio, national TV, game-day security operations, instant replay, public address and scoreboard operations, as well as a flex booth that can be utilized for scouts or a third radio broadcast.
The plans are pending the final approval of the Board of Regents and the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System.
— Louisiana Tech Sports Information