Who really owns Tiger Stadium?
So who owns Tiger Stadium? The answer depends on the section in which you’re sitting.
If you’re watching a football game in a lower bowl seat, it’s owned by LSU. If you’re in a suite or an upper deck, it’s the Tiger Athletic Foundation.
In other words, LSU and TAF share Death Valley. And they pay each other to use it.
According to documents provided by the LSU System, TAF owns and operates the facility expansions at Tiger Stadium—the upper decks on the east and west sidelines and the south end zone, and their corresponding suites. The rest belongs to the university’s athletic department.
As part of a complex deal established at the turn of the millennium—when LSU enlarged Tiger Stadium by adding an upper deck to the east side—the two parties pay rent to each other to use the stadium as a whole. LSU leases the land to TAF, and the foundation leases the facilities to the university. LSU’s annual rent share to TAF is heftier than the foundation’s rent due to the university, but TAF incurred hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to finance the construction of the expansions.
LSU wanted to grow Tiger Stadium in the late 1990s, but the athletic department didn’t have enough money on hand to build the east upper deck by itself. The department turned to TAF to help raise funds for the project—and ultimately oversee construction of it as well.
When TAF and LSU shook hands on plans for the east side expansion in 1998, the sides struck a landmark deal in which the athletic department first leaned heavily on its fundraising arm for significant aid with a massive project. These days, LSU would hardly even think about undertaking a facility expansion without TAF’s support and guidance.
East Side Upper Deck
(completed in 2000)
$1,000: TAF’s annual rent to LSU to lease the land on which the east upper deck sits.
$2 million: LSU’s annual rent to TAF to use the facility.
$65 million: The maximum amount of debt that TAF was allowed to incur when building the project, according to the cooperative endeavor agreement between TAF and LSU. The actual cost came out to be around $55 million.
West Side Upper Deck
(renovated in 2004-2005)
$25,000: TAF’s annual rent to LSU to lease the land on which the west upper deck sits.
$2.5 million: LSU’s annual rent to TAF to use the facility.
$67 million: The maximum amount of debt TAF budgeted to finance the project. The actual cost came in around $60 million.
South End Zone Expansion
(completed in 2014)
$25,000: TAF’s annual rent to LSU to lease the land on which the south end zone facility sits.
$4 million: LSU’s annual rent to TAF to use the facility.
$100 million: the maximum debt TAF budgeted to finance the project. The actual cost came in around $89.3 million.
*Sources: LSU System, LSU Athletic Department, Tiger Athletic Foundation