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Southern University Project Would Realign Football Stadium

Mon December 01, 2003 - National Edition

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Southern University’s Board of Supervisors has given preliminary approval for $95 million in financing for construction projects, including more than $58 million on the Baton Rouge campus.

One Baton Rouge project is a proposed enclosure of an end zone of Mumford Stadium.

The new end-zone seats might not generate enough revenue to pay for the $10 million project, but board member Tony Clayton said there are other ways to make ends meet. He suggested realigning some seats and increasing ticket prices.

By financing the end-zone expansion and other projects through the Southern University Foundation, Southern will be able to avoid red tape that often stalls state projects, even when there is self-generated cash to pay for them.

Most of the projects have projected revenue, ranging from rents for proposed new dorms to athletic revenue for the end-zone expansion.

University officials hope to expedite construction projects by up to 15 years under the proposal approved Nov. 28.

The plan calls for the lease of university land to the foundation, which will handle the construction projects and secure tax-exempt financing with the help of the school. The foundation would lease the new structures back to the school until the bonds are paid off, at which time the structures will revert to the school.

At the Baton Rouge campus, the projects include: $39.5 million for three new dorms, and related infrastructure and amenities; $4.3 million for a new student intramural sports complex; $4.7 million for a new sports complex; and $8 million to $10 million for enclosing the football stadium’s north end zone into a horseshoe shape.

The projects were chosen by Southern University system officials, not the foundation, said Richard Turnley, foundation president.

"If you want all of these projects, that’s fine with us. If there are some that you don’t want, that’s fine with us," Turnley told the board.

Final versions of the projects must come back to the board for approval at a later date.