Louisiana Tech baseball, softball and soccer will be displaced for the coming season, after an EF-3 tornado tore through Ruston, La., back in April, claiming two lives and decimating the school’s sports facilities.
According to the News Star, Tech baseball stadium J.C. Love Field, the Lady Techster Softball complex and soccer stadiums were all left unusable. Athletic director Tommy McClelland said he thinks the school will collect between $17 and $22 million in insurance money, as well as FEMA disaster relief funds. Beyond that, the school will likely have to look to the state of Louisiana for assistance to completely rebuild the facilities.
“None of the sports are going to be in their home stadiums for this upcoming 2019-20 year,” McClelland said. “Soccer, working with Ruston High and (Ruston Parks and Recreation department) to host them in those locations. The new complex is going up south of town, we’re working with the mayor’s office to secure a championship site for them.”
Accommodating the Lady Techster soccer team has been the most pressing concern, as the team opens its season Aug. 23. Luckily, the team doesn’t play its first home game until Sept. 6.
While contingency plans are being worked out, administrators are trying to decide whether new facilities will be built in the same locations are moved to new sites.
“All three of those sites are part of this evaluation. It’s not only a sport decision, athletic department decision, but it’s a university decision on how we better the whole campus. I think there’s a fresh look that’s being taken at all three of those,” McClelland told the News Star. “It may be that all three remain, it may all moved or combination of those things. At this point, more likely than not that soccer and softball will move. That’s not a fact, but it’s more likely that will occur. Current sites provide challenges when it comes to water, drainage. An area that we constantly fought irrigation and other challenge. Sewer pump station between two facilities. We have not have option, we may go back and it’ll be better than what it was.
“My optimism is this summer. We’re all on the same page. We have a freshman class coming in, we want to clean things up. It’s not everyone doesn’t have a sense of urgency. Every day it’s how do we get the ball moving on it? It’s about $500,000 to do demo. I can come up with that money. We could start that tomorrow but we wouldn’t be reimbursed by the state for that. If we don’t follow the protocol of how they do it, we won’t get reimbursed. It’s too important for us to have that so we can build back the right way. Because it’s condemned, we can’t even go in and cut the grass. It’s not a safe environment so it becomes an eye sore. Soon, in the matter of weeks, or just a few months, that’s going to be a distant memory because it’ll be gone. Although we’re still dealing with the residue of this, the vision in what we’re trying to accomplish is far exceed most people’s expectations.”