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Deck not ready for LSU opener at Tiger Stadium

BATON ROUGE, La. -- A yearlong, $60 million construction
project on a deck of Tiger Stadium will not be finished in time for
LSU's home opener Saturday, and it will also cost more than
expected, school officials said.

About 1,500 seats will not be ready for the North Texas game or
the Sept. 10 Arizona State game, athletic director Skip Bertman
said.

The contractor, Philadelphia, Miss.-based Yates Construction,
could have faced a penalty of $500,000 per game for not finishing
the project in time for the opener, Bertman said. That won't
happen, mainly because North Texas and Arizona State have not sold
all their tickets, so the fans who would have sat in the
unavailable seats will sit elsewhere.

Yates could face a $500,000 penalty if the deck isn't ready for
the Tennessee game on Sept. 24, Bertman said. Tennessee has sold
all its 7,000 visitors' tickets, so LSU will need every seat.

The project included the removal and replacement of the
stadium's west upper deck, which went up in 1978. The new deck will
have several thousand new, expensive "club seats" expected to
generate about $2 million per year for the Tiger Athletic
Foundation, LSU's athletic fund-raising arm, Bertman said.

Seats on the first two club levels cost $1,950, $2,250 and
$2,500, depending on their proximity to the 50-yard line. Seats on
the third club level, next to the new, enlarged press box, go for
$2,750 each. Season tickets cost another $252.

In the upper deck above the club seats, 5,971 seats will be
available all season. The northernmost 1,574 seats will be roped
off for the first two games, because restrooms at that end couldn't
be finished in time. They will be available for the Tennessee game,
the school said.

Work will continue as the season wears on: only six of the 10
upper deck elevators will be ready for the opener. Large windows in
the club lounge, facing the Mississippi River, won't be installed
until after the season.