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Samuel Peterson

This week, Tulane athletics has enjoyed the kind of aura,promise and hope that has not be seen in years. First, the men’sbasketball team beat ACC opponent Georgia Tech in front of araucous crowd at Fogelman Arena. Second, New Orleans native CurtisJohnson was hired as the new head football coach Monday. Finally,yesterday, President Scott Cowen and the Board of Trusteesannounced plans for the construction of an on-campus stadium -something Tulane has been missing since 1980. Tulane has finallygotten serious about winning. 

The advantages of an on-campus stadium are numerous. First, itwill be easier to fill up. As Athletic Director Rick Dicksonpointed out, he will no longer ask students to get on a bus tosupport the football team – they “only have to roll out of bed.”The certain increase in attendance is reason enough to justify theexcitement. 

An on-campus stadium can also be a catalyst for a paradigm shiftin student attitudes. As you can see with the recent basketballsuccesses, Tulane students are actually good fans. The problem withfilling the Superdome always has been that it was simply too large.In our current situation, Tulane cannot fill the cavernousSuperdome. The second problem was getting to the game. Let’s faceit: College students are generally an unorganized lot that does notwant to work out the logistics traveling the four miles to theSuperdome, even if it is just a bus ride away. 

As anyone who has ever experienced it knows, a true collegiategameday atmosphere is infectious. Even those who have only a vagueidea of what football is about will go to at least one game, justto find out what all the “hullabaloo” is about. When the game iscut off from the school, the only fans who make it are the diehardswho would go regardless, making the casual fan lost. 

 Hopefully, the stadium will act as a focal point for thecommunity, bringing together not only the Uptown residents, but allNew Orleanians. A game can act as an indispensable community event.You see this in small-town high school games all the time. Playingat the Superdome, many links to the Tulane community are lost. 

There are several areas where the administration worried me abit. The first is the vague nature of the announcements atyesterday’s press conference. Every proclamation by the speakerswas prefaced with “should” or “could,” making one wonder exactlyhow prepared the project is. Also, the lack of specificity on thedesign is troubling. The permit and environmental review process isa notoriously long and Byzantine process that needs to begin soon,if the stadium is to be completed for the 2014 season. 

Everyone in the Tulane community – students, faculty, neighborsand alumni – should be excited at the prospect of a new stadium.After all, our football team will no longer be guests in another’shouse. We will, after all these years, finally come home.

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