LSU Foundation pushes ahead with $10.5M headquarters despite delay of TAF nutrition center

While the state’s austere budget climate is prompting the LSU athletics department to delay construction on a $12 million nutrition center for student-athletes, the LSU Foundation is moving forward with plans to build a new $10.5 million headquarters on Nicholson Drive. Groundbreaking is scheduled for Friday afternoon.

LSU Athletics Director Joe Alleva announced Tuesday that the Tiger Athletic Foundation Nutrition Center will be put on hold because of the threat of possible budget cuts across higher education. In a statement, Alleva says that while money needed to pay for the project was raised through private donations, “The current climate of austerity surrounding our university compels us to move in a more deliberate manner.”

The LSU Foundation, however, says its project—which is funded through private donations and a financing deal—will proceed this spring. Friday’s groundbreaking will coincide with the quarterly meeting of the LSU Foundation board.

“The project is privately funded, with no state dollars used, and the gifts made to support the center are almost entirely from our current and former board members and their families,” Foundation spokesperson Sara Crow says. “The project has been a priority for the board for about a decade. Our board will be in town Friday … and as they are the donors to this project, we will acknowledge their generosity in supporting our increasingly important mission to fundraise on behalf of LSU.”

Crow did not provide details on how much of the $10.5 million has come from private board donations but she says the remaining building costs will be financed through a low-interest 20-year loan.

The LSU Foundation first proposed the new building in 2009. At the time, its ambitious plans called for a five-story, $25 million headquarters with a rooftop terrace on a parcel overlooking Tiger Stadium. When the LSU Board of Supervisors balked at the plan’s extravagance, the foundation went back to the drawing board and came up with the $10.5 million project.

Despite rising construction costs in the area, Crow says the project will be on budget and that the foundation is currently completing construction details. The nearby LSU College of Engineering renovation and expansion, which has a price tag of $110 million, has run into snags over projected cost increases of about 5%. The contract with its original construction manager has been terminated because of the estimated cost increases.

—Stephanie Riegel

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