It’s been a long time coming for D-D Breaux.
The LSU gymnastics coach has been lobbying for a new practice facility for years, and in a few months, her wish will be granted. The University plans to begin construction on the new facility this fall, according to senior associate athletics director Eddie Nunez.
The team currently shares the Carl Maddox Field House with the men’s and women’s track and field teams. Though the indoor track underwent recent renovations, the gymnastics area has little space and few amenities.
“It really is a piecemeal facility,” Nunez said. “It was old racquetball courts and other rooms, and it was basically made by moving some walls around to make a gymnastics facility. The reality is that it’s not conducive for it.”
The practice area is tentatively slated to be completed for the 2015-2016 school year. Nunez said University officials are working to lower the facility’s current estimated cost of $10 million. The project, like the Tiger Stadium expansion and the new tennis facility set to be completed in spring 2015, is being funded through Tiger Athletic Foundation.
The new facility will be located on the north side of the PMAC, and Nunez said the school has yet to decide on the best way to repurpose the old practice area.
LSU’s gymnastic meets will still be held in the PMAC.
Nunez said estimates show the new facility will have twice the square footage of the practice area in the Field House. The facility will include state-of-the-art practice equipment as well as a bigger locker room, lounge spaces, team meeting rooms and a warm-up area.
“It’s not just the size – it’s the bang for the buck,” Breaux said. “The safe, modern training facility that we’re going to have will allow us to be much more efficient in practice and a lot safer.”
The Tigers recorded a program-high third place finish at the NCAA Super Six Finals and broke their school scoring record three times in 2014. The upgraded facility may help LSU take the next step toward a championship in more ways than one, Breaux said.
“Just having the renderings and the promise has added a new dimension to our recruiting,” Breaux said. “We feel like we’re able to get the attention of kids we weren’t able to attract before because they were so enamored with the training facilities at other universities. What this is going to bring to us is the ability to bring kids on our campus that will be very proud and braggadocious about our facilities and the modernness of it.”
The new gymnastics facility joins the Tiger Stadium expansion and the new tennis indoor facility as LSU’s most recent construction projects.
The gymnastics facility is the last of the three to break ground simply because it was the last to be designed and contracted, Nunez said.
“We do want to prioritize, but I don’t think we can sit here and say ‘we did this one because it’s more important than the other one,’” Nunez said. “There’s a revenue component within the football stadium expansion that’s important. These other two venues that we’re enhancing and building, those are non-revenue producing sports.”
Breaux has been vocal about the potential benefits the gymnastics program could reap from a new practice facility, and she’s not about to stop now.
“It’s going to have everything and more than other universities,” Breaux said. “I believe without a shadow of a doubt that this facility will be the new benchmark gymnastics facility in the country.”