LSU’s PMAC might be replaced or improved with money in state construction budget

LSU’s PMAC might be replaced or improved with money in state construction budget
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Note: Click here to see the Louisiana Illuminator’s original reporting.

LSU women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey scored another victory with a buzzer-beater addition to the state construction budget that could help build a new basketball arena.

The Louisiana Legislature doled out an assist to Mulkey, fresh off the team’s national championship victory this spring, by setting aside $1 million in state dollars for improvements to the university’s basketball stadium. LSU Athletics spokesperson Cody Worsham said the department has not yet decided whether it will replace the Pete Maravich Assembly Center with a new facility or renovate the existing stadium.

The funds were part of a last-minute compromise plan put forward by a conference committee of legislators from both chambers and voted on in the final minutes of the regular legislative session that ended Thursday. Given just minutes to digest the new version of the bill, which included dozens of pages of amendments, most legislators were likely unaware of the addition.

The amendment, which was tucked into page 36 of 39 pages of changes, slates $101 million to the Tiger Athletic Foundation, the private fundraising arm of LSU athletics, for a “‘PMAC Enhancement Project, Planning and Construction.”

Of that amount, $1 million is immediately available state dollars, while $50 million is from fees and self-generated revenue. An additional $50 million is designated as the lowest priority category for funding, meaning lawmakers will have to appropriate it in the future.

The money was set aside at the request of several lawmakers, including the second-ranking legislator in the House, Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma.In an interview earlier this year, he said Mulkey approached legislative leaders to request the funds. The project was not part of the capital outlay request university leaders submitted earlier in the year for state construction spending.

Mulkey made her request public April 19 at LSU Day at the Capitol, an annual event during which students, researchers, administrators, coaches and athletes descend on the capitol to showcase the university. Fresh off the team’s national championship victory two weeks earlier, Mulkey used her moment at the microphone to seek state funding to either renovate or replace the PMAC.

“Get on [House Speaker] Clay Schexnayder and get it for us,” Mulkey told legislators in the crowd.

Magee said later that day, when Mulkey and her players waited alongside legislative leaders to go onto the House floor to be honored for their win, the ever-formidable coach grabbed the opportunity to pitch leadership on the project.

“She said that it’s a liability to the health of her players, that the condition of the PMAC has degraded to a state that safety is an actual issue,” Magee said.

Cody Worsham, an LSU athletics spokesperson, said that while there are ongoing problems with the nearly 50-year old stadium, none of them pose a threat to the safety of players or fans.

“If they’re coming in and using the facility, it’s good to go,” Worsham said in an interview. “The safety issues aren’t necessarily like imminent dangers. They are the safety hazards that come with a 50-year-old building.”

Worsham pointed to several problems with the facility that could be blamed on building codes from the 1970s, such as insufficient handrails and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance issues that the university has tried to retrofit. Worsham said those constant maintenance needs constitute an unnecessary drain on resources.

The university will use the $1 million made immediately available for planning its next step, whether it’s a total replacement of the stadium or a renovation of the existing facility.

“The money that we’re going to spend on planning will help us make the best decision there because there’s pros and cons for both ways,” Worsham said.

Worsham framed the project as a boon not only to the basketball team, but the entire campus, city and state.

Note: Click here to see the Louisiana Illuminator’s original reporting.

But not everybody is convinced.

Earlier this year, Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, expressed skepticism about the proposal.

“I don’t blame a basketball coach for wanting the best possible basketball arena. I will tell you, for me, the biggest priority there will be is a new library,” Edwards said at a Baton Rouge Press Club meeting earlier this year.

The state construction budget also includes over $3 million in immediate funds for a new LSU library. The university has plans to demolish the existing library and build a new facility in a different spot on campus.

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The library, which has received nationwide notoriety for its abysmal state, especially compared to the school’s palatial athletics facilities, has a score of maintenance problems that require about $30 million worth of work. Most notably, the facility has leaky roofs that require bookshelves on the top floor to be covered with plastic tarps.

Edwards has the option to remove the PMAC funds from the existing construction budget with a line-item veto. He has not indicated whether he will keep or pull them from the spending plan.


About Mary Weyand 11096 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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