Thursday, September 04, 2008

Big blow holds that tiger

Hurricane Gustav hung on to the ball when it hit the wall . . . and who knows when next the goal will be in view for LSU.

LORD KNOWS, the Tigers' next home football game won't be Saturday. The Troy State contest has been pushed back to November.

And no one knows whether it will be possible to play in damaged Tiger Stadium next week either. Even if the old ball yard is fixed up in time, who knows whether Baton Rouge -- still mostly without electricity, a state which will continue for days or weeks -- will be up to the task of a football weekend anytime soon?

From The Advocate in storm-ravaged Baton Rouge:
LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva made the official announcement Wednesday that Saturday’s game between No. 7-ranked LSU and Troy has been postponed to Nov. 15. Tickets already purchased for the Troy game will be honored Nov. 15.

Alleva, LSU System President John Lombardi and Chancellor Michael Martin met Tuesday to discuss options after Gustav ripped through the area Monday.

Moving the game to Monday was not an option and the thought of playing the game in the Superdome or anywhere in the state was also turned down.

“This decision was a university decision and really wasn’t made until earlier (Wednesday) morning when we were sure that we had to postpone the game,” Alleva said.

The determining factors for the postponement were the condition of Tiger Stadium and the LSU campus, as well as the city’s current predicament.

LSU’s campus incurred several pockets of major damage and the venerable football stadium was not spared.

While there isn’t apparent structural damage to the 84-year-old “Death Valley,” the interior absorbed a notable series of blows.

Several seats on the west side of the stadium were damaged and the 200- and 300-level club seats were particularly hard hit, with several awnings ripped away.

Associate athletic director for facilities and grounds Ronnie Haliburton said several team bleachers from the sidelines apparently blew into both sides of the stadium.

The natural grass surface was also victimized with several gashes and divots from debris. Haliburton and his staff spent much of Tuesday removing debris.

The overriding problem with the stadium, though, was as of Wednesday there was no power and no guarantee it would be restored by Saturday and be reliable for a game.

When all factors were weighed, the bottom line was a stadium that wouldn’t have been playable.

“There were a lot of factors why we had to do it,” Alleva said. “The first is safety. Our stadium suffered a lot of damage. There are windows blown out. We don’t know the condition of the scoreboard and the lighting system. … There’s no power and we don’t know when power is going to come back on.

“The city of Baton Rouge is in too bad a shape to take resources away to play a football game. We’ve got to worry about the citizens of Baton Rouge and getting them power and food and water that they need. We’ll reschedule this game and hopefully the city of Baton Rouge will back on its feet shortly.”
AND RIGHT NOW, "hopefully" is up for grabs:
The focus shifts to a Sept. 13 home game against North Texas, but even that may need to be done tentatively.

With crews scattered around the greater Baton Rouge area trying to restore power, there’s no guarantee LSU’s campus will get immediate attention.

“My biggest concern is to make sure the stadium is ready to go next weekend,” Alleva said. “And we’re going to make sure it is, but that’s still a concern. We have to get contractors in here, and obviously contractors are very busy. We have to make sure we get the stadium safe for next weekend.”

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