BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - LSU postponed its football game against
Troy after Hurricane Gustav damaged Tiger Stadium and battered
Louisiana's capital city far worse than anticipated.
The university made the decision Wednesday after having a full
day to get a handle on damage to the stadium and the community,
much of which is expected to be without power into next week.
"We would have loved to play the game, but it's not possible
and the city of Baton Rouge is in too bad shape to take resources
away to play a football game," LSU athletic director Joe Alleva
said. "The welfare of the people of Baton Rouge, the uncertain
power issues facing all of us and the condition of Tiger Stadium
were all factors in making this decision."
The seventh-ranked Tigers' game against the Trojans will be
played Nov. 15.
"We are fortunate that both schools had a common open date
later in the year," Alleva said. "I am appreciative of the
cooperation of the good people at Troy for their understanding of
Classes at LSU are canceled through the end of the week, with
only part of campus on power generated by the school's emergency
backup power plant.
LSU's football team met at the Tigers' on-campus training center
Tuesday afternoon, then went ahead with practice. They practice
Wednesday afternoon at their indoor facility, which also has backup
The most noticeable damage at Tiger Stadium were torn awnings
that, along with their metal supports, were ripped off of an upper
deck facades, crashing onto club seats below. Debris littered the
stands and playing field soon after the storm had passed, though
much of it had been cleaned up two days later.
Ronnie Haliburton, associate athletic director for facilities
and grounds, said team benches that had been on the sidelines were
lifted up and tossed into the lower rows of seats by wind that
swirled around the stadium. Some seat backs also were broken apart,
leaving sharp edges that could be a danger to fans if not replaced.
Haliburton said he would not know if the stadium lights or
scoreboards were still working until regular power was restored. A
generator was used to power meeting rooms below the stands behind
one end zone.
"We don't know when power's going to come back on," Alleva
Troy athletic director Steve Dennis said his university was
happy to accommodate the postponement.
"This is a football game, nothing more, and the people of Baton
Rouge have more to worry about right now than a football game,"
Dennis said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of
Baton Rouge and LSU and we wish them nothing but the best as they
work to overcome the effects of this storm."
Trees are down on campus and throughout Baton Rouge, some
resting on the roofs of houses. Dangling and shredded power lines
were also a common sight.
Normally, more than 100,000 fans flock to campus for LSU games,
enjoying tailgate parties even if they cannot gain entrance to
91,600-seat Tiger Stadium, then filling area hotels.
LSU officials said there was no way the Baton Rouge area could
accommodate such an event this weekend, but remained hopeful that a
scheduled home game on Sept. 13 against North Texas would be played
in Death Valley.
Haliburton said some damaged features in the stadium, such as
the awnings, would be removed but not likely replaced right away.
The goal is simply to make the stadium safe enough to pass a fire
The eye of Gustav passed just west of Baton Rouge, battering the
capital city with recorded gusts of 74 mph for hours. Damage
appeared worse in Baton Rouge than in New Orleans, where the Saints
remain scheduled to play their regular season opener against the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Louisiana Superdome on Sunday.
Tropical Storm Hanna also is causing schedule changes this
weekend. The Colgate-Coastal Carolina football game has been moved
from Saturday night to Sunday at 1 p.m. in Conway, S.C.
Alleva said LSU officials briefly talked about asking Superdome
officials if they could host LSU's game this Saturday, but because
Troy and LSU shared the same open date, and because a number of
residents across many parts of the state are still reeling from the
storm, it made more sense to reschedule the game for Tiger Stadium
later this fall.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)