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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Centenary Athletic Facility Updates


The practice field at Centenary College awaits its first football game.

Upgrades to several buildings near completion

When David Orr first met with architects from Somdal Associates in early 2021, the director of athletics and recreation at Centenary College of Louisiana had a vision for the school’s new and renovated athletic facilities.

“The one thing I wanted to make sure we did was make them look like Centenary College. There are a lot of people in our town who drive by this amazing college and have never actually been on campus. Once you’re on campus, you’re blown away by how beautiful it is, with the trees, the architecture, the bricks and everything else. We wanted to make this outdoor athletic complex so that when you walk into it, it gives you not so much a ‘Wow!’ factor but more like, ‘Wow! This is a cool place to be. This is neat. This is a good place. I feel good here.’” More than three years later, Orr’s mission is nearly accomplished.

This fall, for the first time since the 1940s, football will return to Centenary. That meant the need for new and upgraded venues and buildings. Orr said the three-phase project, including restarting the football program, costs $7-10 million.

“I stand on the patio of the field house with (Head Football) Coach (Byron) Dawson quite often. We look over the practice field and the game field and envision what the grandstands will look like once they’re put in place. We feel like we’ve got a facility that can compete with just about anybody (at our level).”

Phase One is finished. It involved tearing down tennis courts, a parking lot and a road, gutting the former Dental Arts building (which was renovated to be an athletic field house), installing an artificial turf practice field, lights, a retaining wall, a brick façade, gates and walkways, and constructing a new athletic field house.

Phase Two will be completed by the first football game on Sept. 7. It will consist of improvements to Mayo Stadium (where the team will play), featuring upgraded bleachers, an updated press box and a scoreboard.

The newest edition on campus, the fieldhouse next to the fooball practice field.

Phase Three, a 100-seat meeting and media room inside the Gold Dome, is anticipated to be finished soon after Phase Two.

While football was the catalyst for all of the above, it won’t be the only sport that reaps the benefits.

“Bringing football to Centenary wasn’t just about bringing football to Shreveport.

It was also about bringing opportunities to almost all of our other sports. … We have so many wonderful sports here and so many amazing student-athletes and coaches, families and supporters of those sports. Bringing football allowed us to do upgrades in other areas. The field house, housing women’s softball and women’s soccer, giving them brand new locker rooms, was a big deal. Those are two programs that we wanted to give them something better than what they had. Now, we’re able to do that.”

For David Pratt, the project has been personal. Pratt, the project manager for general contractor Brown Builders of Bossier City, is a former Centenary student-athlete who also worked in the school’s athletic department.

“Lots of pride” is how Pratt described how he feels. “One thing about construction is being able to drive around town and say, ‘We built that building over there,’ or ‘We were a part of this over there.’ That pride is already there in all the projects we get to do. But the idea that you’re an alum of this institution and roamed these fields, yes, there’s a lot of pride. I’m very proud to be associated with the project and proud of the way it turned out. I’m happy for Centenary.”

Pratt’s intimate knowledge of the school’s athletic department has come in handy.

“I knew the lay of the land. I knew the people. I knew David Orr. I had worked with this architect on other projects. The group has been really cohesive and really easy to work with. Everyone has the same goal in mind. … The goal was to get it right. You have this opportunity to build something that will be there a long time and will benefit (not just) the athletic department and the football team, but pretty much all the teams in one way or another.”

While the end of this project is in sight, if Orr has his way, it won’t be the last project for Centenary athletics.

“To me, this is the first step of many new steps in the future. It’s not so much a satisfaction when I look out over it. It’s a motivation to keep going and to do more than just this piece of building upon Centenary athletics and Centenary College. I think there’s more to come. I believe there’s more to come. This is the first major step, but there will be other major steps in the future that we are planning for.”

To learn more about Centenary athletics, you may visit gocentenary.com.


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