The University of Louisiana at Lafayette football program has yet another feather to add to its cap, thanks to its string of success under coach Mark Hudspeth and the wave of momentum created by the baseball, softball and basketball teams this spring.
With a little more than three weeks remaining until the Ragin’ Cajuns kick off against Southern University at Cajun Field, the university has announced that it already has eclipsed last year’s record mark of season ticket sales, with 12,276 currently sold.
Associate Director of Athletics for External Affairs Rob Stewart said that number can climb even higher as the official season-ticket tally won’t take place until the season opener. Last year’s record was set at 11,883.
“Winning is obviously a big part of it, but the consistent winning throughout the entire year last year, the buzz, the excitement, it really has made UL the thing to do,” Stewart said. “Now UL is about the community and the community’s support with it. Everything’s bigger than the game.”
Recent renovations have increased Cajun Field’s seating capacity by roughly 6,000 with the addition of a lower bowl in the south end zone where a grass berm used to be. The school also added more restrooms and concessions to accommodate patrons in the additional seating area and installed a new high-definition video board in the north end zone.
To go along with the renovations, the school band, the Pride of Acadiana, moved from its usual location near midfield to the southeast corner of the stadium, clearing room for season ticket packages near midfield. Those packages, in sections P and Q, are going for $150. Season ticket packages start at $110.
“We’ll get sales numbers at the end of each day, and those numbers noticeably climbed each day (since sections P and Q were made available),” Stewart said. “The ability to be able to sit midfield for $150 for season tickets was just something that hadn’t been available as season tickets go.”
While the positive momentum created by the spring sports helped, a large part of the record can be tracked to the resurgent football team, which has enjoyed three straight nine-win seasons and New Orleans Bowl championships under Hudspeth.
UL-Lafayette ticket manager Matt Casbon, who has spent three years at his current post but has been involved with the ticket office for five years, has seen the effect firsthand.
“The excitement coach Hudspeth was able to create when he first got here has really taken on that snowball effect,” Casbon said.
For the first time in Hudspeth’s tenure, the Cajuns also will have a six-game home schedule.
Hudspeth appreciates the record, something he figured would be a byproduct of the program’s success, but he doesn’t want it to stop now.
“My challenge to our fans is that we can still do so much more,” Hudspeth said in a news release. “I really feel that we will do that before the first game, and I encourage our fans who haven’t bought season tickets to get them now and join in the excitement of great college football at Cajun Field.”