Officials 'concerned' about completion

Updated: April 6, 2005, 6:02 PM ET
Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. -- A little less than five months from LSU's Sept. 3 football season opener with North Texas, the new $60 million west upper deck of Tiger Stadium is a stunted collection of concrete pillars and exposed construction material.

But despite the work in progress, school officials remain confident they will be ready for the season opener.

"We are concerned, but confident," LSU Associate Athletic Director Herb Vincent said. "We've always been a little concerned, but if the work is a little behind, it is nothing insurmountable."

LSU officials have maintained the deck would be ready by the season opener. If there is work remaining to be done, it would likely be only finishing touches, Vincent said.

"If there are seats not ready it would be a very, very small number," Vincent said. "And they would be in the far upper regions of the upper deck."

Vincent said LSU doesn't have any contingencies now for how to cope with an incomplete west upper deck.

"But it would be remiss of us not to be ready for things like that," Vincent said. "The number one concern is safety. If there are seats that are not ready, or if something is not approved by the fire marshal, we will err on the side of safety."

LSU pulled down the old west upper deck, built in 1978, except for some support beams and ramps. The new upper deck will closely resemble the one built on the east side in 2000.

The major differences are the presence of a new press box and 3,200 club level seats in two levels beneath the upper deck. The east deck contains 70 luxury suites called "Tiger Dens" on two levels.

The club seats have been completely sold out for this season, Vincent said, another reason why incomplete isn't much of an option for LSU. Season ticket holders will occupy much of the west upper deck, and are currently being contacted by the LSU Athletic Ticket Office to try to determine how closely to their old seats they can be in the new deck.

Tiger Stadium's capacity will increase slightly from 91,600 to about 92,300.

Vincent said construction crews have been hampered by some weather delays. But the major holdup came when crews were driving pilings and encountered large slabs of concrete buried underground next to the stadium.

LSU officials surmise the concrete may have been lying there since the stadium was first built in 1924, or left their after major expansions in 1931, 1936, 1953 or 1978.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press