Upon arriving in Lafayette I learned three things:
- Cajuns are a slang term for Acadiana, who are basically rowdy frenchmen who were kicked out of everywhere they tried to settle before America took them in and tried to hide them in an area they didnʼt think anybody would ever go to. They still happen to follow The Napoleonic Code. I think it is because they donʼt realize they live in America yet.
- True Blood could be considered a true story if the vampires are just metaphors for mosquitos. Half the time I couldnʼt tell if I was drunk or just lost too much blood from all the mosquito bites Iʼd accumulated.
- For a small Sun Belt Conference school, the community and student body really support their teams. They have 17,000 students compared to CSUʼs 25,000.
First off, I was impressed by Cypress Lake. It is an actual swamp that is engulfed by the campus. It is the center point of campus, complete with alligators, turtles and ﬁsh. There were cypress trees everywhere with cypress knees poking out of the swamp. I was all like; Cypress please!!! I took some pictures with my cell phone. The Raginʼ Cajuns branding was everywhere. If you forgot where you were, you would be reminded quickly.
Secondly, I went by their sports complex ON campus. They have an indoor and outdoor facility 20 feet from Cajun Field where their football team plays. All the facilities arenʼt gigantic but were state of the art. The facilities were all closed so I got as close as I could with the pictures. Cajun Field reminded me a lot of Hughes. It sunk into the ground and even had the grass inﬁeld on the north and south ends of the stadium. They nicknamed Cajun Field “The Swamp”. A block away is the Cajun Dome where the basketball team plays. It ﬁelds all the areas big events from monster truck rallies to concerts.
Lastly, I noticed a hotel right across the street from the Cajun Dome, a block away from Cajun Field. Any fan could go to any event and walk right from the hotel. I will be honest and admit I wasnʼt on the “stadium on campus” bandwagon!!! I didnʼt see how CSU had enough cash to build an attractive stadium. I was worried we were trying to compete with larger schools with less resources. I thought that Hughes was a sufﬁcient facility for football, and didnʼt see an argument for spending money on a new one. Then I saw the layout of this campus and completely changed my mind. This is the example I needed to see to persuade me. This complex on campus brought all the events to the students, and made for a compelling atmosphere. The enthusiasm in the area was contagious. A far cry from the Ft. Collins residents who treat sporting events as an interference and violation of their public parking space.
The hotel across the street from the facilities was a big selling point for me as well. It gives fans the option to not worry about parking and just walk to the game. Students who drink too much at the game can be safe and stay at the hotel instead of attempting to drive. It also can be popular for people who live out of the area and are too tired to drive home. But the overall closeness of things is what intrigued me. I would never watch a tennis match, but UL-Lafayette had one going on and in passing I almost considered it (Haley Acuna intrigued me, and not for her tennis skills).
Building an on-campus stadium will put the pulse back into the student body. Hughes Stadium is out of sight, out of mind amongst students and alumni alike, but somewhere on campus will bring the product right into the student bodyʼs lap. I left Lafayette later that day with sweat on my skin, jazz in my ears and gumbo in my belly, conformed with the idea that an on-campus stadium doesnʼt just need to happen, it MUST happen.