Tiger Stadium isn’t the only building getting expanded. LSU’s football operations facility — including the weight room and locker room — is getting a facelift.
The school is expanding and renovating the 10-year-old facility on Skip Bertman Drive. The Tiger Athletics Nutrition Center, meanwhile, is back on schedule and could break ground as early as this fall.
The university is in the design and fundraising phase of the football operations project, so specifics — such as exact cost and start date — are unclear, said Eddie Nunez, LSU’s senior associate athletic director.
What is clear: It’s time to spruce up a football facility that’s falling behind others in the Southeastern Conference, Nunez said.
“When you have teams like Kentucky and Vanderbilt building new facilities and passing you up, you have to enhance,” he said. “The bones of the building are great. It’s a good building that needs to be updated and enhanced.”
On the east side of the facility, facing Tiger Stadium, the weight room will be expanded by at least 20 percent and include a second-floor mezzanine with windows overlooking the driveway into the facility.
The east-side addition will be about 5,000 square feet, Emmett Davis told the LSU Board of Supervisors last week. Construction on the east side will last about two months.
On the west side, facing the Mississippi River and practice fields, the team’s locker room will be completely renovated, and the training room and second-floor coaches’ meeting rooms will be expanded.
Renderings of the exterior of the additions show the new additions jutting out of the two sides of the building — the new weight room bulging out near the driveway, and the west side moving closer to the football practice fields. Interior renderings were not yet available.
“We’ve got to do some things to make the facility competitive,” Nunez said. “The weight room, when it was designed, was solely for football. What’s happened is it’s grown. Football, softball, baseball are using it. It’s a multiuse facility. We’re expanding that area. We’re giving all of our student-athletes a better opportunity to get better.”
Tiger Athletic Foundation is funding the project. Rick Perry, TAF president and CEO, said the organization has raised $4 million since starting the fundraising for the football operations expansion six months ago.
The project doesn’t have a time frame or estimated cost since it’s in the early stages of design, Nunez said.
“We’re assessing the cost,” he said. “We don’t have a dollar amount.”
They have one for the nutrition center: $12 million. TAF has raised the funds for that facility, which will provide athletes a state-of-the-art dining hall.
The construction of the nutrition center was put on hold because of proposed state budget cuts, the school announced in March. Construction on the nutrition center was scheduled to begin in April. The legislative session ended June 11 without many of the previously projected budget cuts.
The university should complete the design phase for the nutrition center in the next few weeks, and bids will then be accepted. Construction could start by mid-to-late fall. It will take a year to build.
The nutrition center will be the first piece in the “Nicholson Corridor,” an area of planned development on and around the site of the old Alex Box.
The nutrition center will include a large dining room, kitchen, lounge area and a “fueling station” open extended hours. According to renderings, a concrete plaza encircles the building, which adheres to the campus’s Italian Renaissance architecture.
Renderings show a facility with a Spanish tile roof and archways across its front. There is seating in an outdoor plaza area that’s marked with trees.
The facility won’t only feed athletes. Nutritionists will teach them healthy eating habits and how to prepare these meals at home.
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.