By Felix Cunningham
Officials from the Southern University System Foundation joined administrators from Southern University in Baton Rouge as well as Southern athletics to release plans for facility renovations.
This new plan has been dubbed Jaguar Park.
Jaguar Park is a two-phase facility improvement project scheduled for completion in 2016 and includes the development of a new soccer field, field house, field lights, and a storage facility that includes a video tower overlooking the football practice field.
The project, which is privately funded by the Southern University System Foundation, also includes the relocation of the track and field circle.
“We know that we have our challenges here in the state with the funding for higher education,” said Alfred Harrell, Executive Director of the SU System Foundation.
“Once we get that funding from the state legislature and our alumni, who have been working very hard, we are quite optimistic that we will be able to do our part in regards to this particular project.”
Estimated at a healthy contribution of $500,000, Jaguar Park is expected to aid Southern University athletics’ ongoing efforts to display and maintain NCAA compliance as a part of the department’s gender equity plan.
“I am very thankful for the foundation, the president of the foundation Demoine Rutledge and executive director Al Harell,” said Roman Banks, interim athletics director. “Through these budget cuts and in these tough times, you need a big brother and this foundation has adopted us.”
Head women’s soccer coach Courtnie Prather stood in a white “True Blue” hat and plunged one of the gold plated shovels into a pile of the old surface where her program’s new home will be located. This is the first time her soccer team will not be sharing the football practice field in the early hours of the morning.
“Sharing a field was first appalling to me, but then we had to realize that a brighter day will come and that day is now,” said Prather.
“We recognize that when you have a place you can call your own and that’s where you train and you show up and its your soccer goals and its your lines on the field, you take a little bit more ownership. When you have a little more ownership, you take accountability into how you train, into what you give to your team and your program everyday and also into the legacy you’ll leave behind through graduation.”
Prospective donors interested in securing one of the 40 columns set to align Jaguar Park are encouraged to contact the SU System Foundation for more details.
In the mean time, construction workers have begun excavating the ground for Jaguar Park to become a reality.