Success at Tiger Stadium doesn’t happen overnight. It takes planning, attention to detail. There are setbacks along the way. Then, over time, it all comes together.
That’s not just true for Ed Orgeron’s football team. It’s the story of Evan Saacks’ model of LSU’s famed football stadium.
Saacks, an LSU senior in mass communication, brought what he'd like to be a good-luck charm to his apartment just down Nicholson Drive from the Fighting Tigers’ home field. It’s a 3,185-piece model of Tiger Stadium that took him 10 months to build.
A birthday present from his parents, it turned into a form of therapy when the Tigers, then undefeated through five games and ranked fifth nationally, lost 27-19 to Florida on Oct. 6 in Gainesville. He started building the model right away.
“I was extremely frustrated, and I needed to do something constructive to get over that, because it was a frustrating loss,” Saacks said.
The model wouldn’t be an instant cure. Made by Foco, the interconnecting model pieces are similar to Legos, only quite small. There were 18 bags of pieces, and the instruction booklet has 33 steps, so Saacks decided to leave the model at his home in Mandeville and set a goal of completing at least one step each time he visited. He would work on it from an hour and a half to two hours on each trip.
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“When I first started, there are so many pieces and so many different types of pieces that for the first couple of months I’d worked on it I’d always get something wrong and have to deconstruct a little bit before I could keep building,” he said. “It was very hard to get it off the ground for the early steps, but once I got about 12 or 13 steps in, I got into kind of a groove.”
Saacks, 21, finished the project on Aug. 8, the same day the football team had its first full practice in pads. If the Tigers’ season follows the same emotional arc as Saacks’ project, there will be a happy ending.
“The first few steps were pretty brutal, because it took awhile for it to look like anything,” he said. “For a while, it just seemed like random square pieces that you were connecting together. It kind of dawned on me, like, oh my God, it’s going to take so long to finish. Eventually, when I got to the part where I did the actual field, then I started going up with the stands, that kind of made it cool.”