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LSU Tiger Athletic Nutrition Center to serve as centerpiece, catalyst of Nicholson Drive Corridor plan

When LSU officials began thinking about the best place on campus to locate the $12 million Tiger Athletic Nutrition Center that was recently approved for construction by the LSU Board of Supervisors, they were immediately drawn to Nicholson Drive.

“From a proximity standpoint to our other athletic facilities, this was really one of the best locations we could place it on to have it be in a central point,” explains Eddie Nunez, LSU senior associate athletic director. “Plus, there’s been numerous studies by a number of groups that have looked at this whole Nicholson Drive Corridor plan, which includes everything from mixed-use developments to campus housing and retail, and we’ve always had a desire to have something within this corridor that would really be a landmark within all the development that’s eventually going to come to the area.”

With a look at a few renderings of the project, it’s easy to envision the Tiger Athletic Nutrition Center as the kind of landmark LSU officials are looking for on the Nicholson corridor. The roughly 22,500-square-foot building, which will be built on a 1.7-acre site formerly home to the old Alex Box Stadium, will be a state-of-the-art building in the Italianate-style architecture that’s commonplace on the campus. The renderings show a tile roof and archways across the front of the single-story building, as well as a tree-studded outdoor plaza.

But the nutrition center won’t be the only landmark building for LSU in the Nicholson Drive Corridor. It will be built adjacent to where the new headquarters for the LSU Foundation is planned at the corner of Nicholson and Skip Bertman drives. Both projects are being paid for entirely with private funds, and both are expected to break ground next year.

“One thing that the [Nicholson Drive Corridor] committee has been tasked with is to make sure that everything within this corridor, regardless of who develops it, will have an LSU theme to it,” Nunez adds.

The LSU Board of Supervisors officially approved the Nicholson Development Plan in March 2013 and signed off on the Tiger Athletic Nutrition Center design plan at its meeting earlier this month. Nunez says construction will likely start in April or May, with officials hoping to have the project complete in time for an opening in the fall of 2016.

Nunez says the Tiger Athletic Nutrition Center will be more than just a place where the university’s approximately 400 student-athletes go to get a quick snack or full meal.

“We want to make sure we’re doing our part to help teach our student-athletes the assets of healthy living, and that means knowing how to prepare and cook healthy meals. That will be a big emphasis of this center,” he says.

Nunez says LSU is behind other peer schools in the SEC when it comes to facilities such as the nutrition center. He says LSU officials found it “a little alarming” when they looked at similar facilities built in recent years at schools including Auburn, Alabama, Florida and Texas A&M. They’re now hoping to incorporate the best ideas they’ve seen at those peer centers at the LSU Tiger Athletic Nutrition Center, and push the emphasis on teaching student-athletes about healthy living to a level not seen at competing schools.

“That’s one thing we found other schools haven’t done quite as much, at least not to the extent that we’re hoping to do,” Nunez says of the education component. “We’re trying to take it to a whole other level here, to really put the emphasis on the student-athlete and be able to say to them: ‘Look, we’re going to help you prepare for life, not just academically, but for the real life stuff, too.’” —Steve Sanoski

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