|Location||444 Cajundome Boulevard
Lafayette, Louisiana 70506
|Owner||University of Louisiana at Lafayette|
Ice Hockey: 11,433
Pro Wrestling: 12,121
|Broke ground||January 27, 1982|
|Opened||November 10, 1985|
|Construction cost||$60 million
($134 million in 2017 dollars)
|Structural engineer||J.B. Mouton & Sons|
|General contractor||Blunt Brothers Corp.|
|Louisiana–Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (NCAA) (1985–Present)
Louisiana IceGators (ECHL) (1995–2005)
Lafayette SwampCats (EISL) (1997–1998)
Lafayette Roughnecks (af2) (2001)
Louisiana IceGators (SPHL) (2010–2016)
Lafayette Wildcatters (SIFL) (2010)
The Cajundome is a 13,500-seat multi-purpose arena located in Lafayette, Louisiana. It is home to the Louisiana–Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns men's basketball (as well as the Ragin' Cajuns women's basketball program when the men and women play doubleheaders), and the Louisiana high school basketball state championship.
The arena also hosts many regional concerts (seating for concerts 8,481 to 13,500) and special events, such as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) events and the annual outdoor Cajun Heartland State Fair, an eleven-day state fair that attracts over 175,000. The facility is a recognizable Lafayette landmark that was built by the State of Louisiana, funded by the City of Lafayette, and is owned by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and managed by the Cajundome Commission.
From the mid-1990s through the mid-2000s it was home to the ECHL's now-defunct Louisiana IceGators. During that time, the arena earned the nickname 'The Frozen Swamp'. The Cajundome has been home to the Lafayette SwampCats of the EISL and the Lafayette Roughnecks of the af2. It also hosted the 1998, 1999, and 2007 Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball tournaments. The arena also hosts the annual Beta Club Louisiana state conventions.
The stadium was first proposed in 1978 by the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, then headed by journalist Ron Gomez, a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1980 to 1989. The project was authorized during the administration of Governor David C. Treen and completed in 1985, during the administration of Mayor William Dudley "Dud" Lastrapes, Jr., at a cost of $64 million.
Gomez envisioned a building for both university and municipal needs. In his autobiography, Gomez describes the project and its architect, Neil Nehrbass of Lafayette, accordingly:
"Several of his peers openly questioned Nehrbass' ability to handle such an immense project. They had a good basis for their anxiety since Neil had never taken on such a colossal building. He was known, rather for his non-traditional and sometimes avant-garde designs. Nehrbass and I had been acquainted many years, and he recognized my passion for this project. We talked at great length about the building and the uses for it. Neil was the consummate artist. He dressed flamboyantly, chain smoked gold-tipped, pastel-colored cigarettes which he imported from England and was definitely not a sports fan. He had never attended a USL [since UL Lafayette] basketball game. But he was enthusiastic about this new project and visited the recently-opened domed facility in Biloxi, Mississippi, and Madison Square Garden in New York City to gain insight on how he would make the Lafayette structure unique."
The Louisiana IceGators of the East Coast Hockey League played host in the Cajundome from 1995 to 2005. In 2005, the franchise folded due to financial problems and drops in attendance after the IceGators were in the Top 4 for attendance in the ECHL. In 2009, Danny Smith, a local businessman, decided to bring back the Louisiana IceGators but this time in the Southern Professional Hockey League. A few months after Smith bought it, the franchise was sold to E.C. "Chuck" Anselmo, Jr. and E.C. "Chuck" Anselmo, III. In their first season, the IceGators played at Blackham Coliseum. In their second season, the IceGators moved to the Cajundome. In early 2016, the Louisiana IceGators and the SPHL announced that the IceGators would suspend operations for the 2016-17 season. It is currently unknown if the IceGators will play again in the 2017-18 season.
Convention Center addition
In 2002 a new convention center addition to the arena was built. The new addition added 37,301 square feet (3,465 m²) of exhibit hall space to the Cajundome's 40,000 square feet (3,716 m²) of arena floor space plus 39,685 square feet (3687 m²) of meeting space including a 15,682 square foot (1457 m²) ballroom, 12,159 square feet (1130 m²) of prefunction space and a 17,590 square foot (1630 m²) outdoor mall holding up to 2,118 for outdoor events.
Use as a shelter
In 2005, following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and soon after Hurricane Rita, the Cajundome became one of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's evacuee shelters. Staffed by Red Cross, Salvation Army, Americorp and a host of local charities, the facility became a center of relief for thousands. The recently opened Convention Center addition was also utilized as a distribution logistics point and also housed a Special Needs Clinic. This clinic served those needing additional care not deemed urgent or emergency by local area hospitals.
- Gomez, Sr., Ronald J. (2000). "8". My Name Is Ron, and I'm a Recovering Legislator: Memoirs of a Louisiana State Representative. Lafayette, LA: Zemog Publishing. pp. 73, 95. ISBN 0-595-86001-X. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
- Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017.
- Weingardt, Richard G. (May 1, 2013). "William J. Mouton: Tube Structure Pioneer and Foundation Innovator". Structure Magazine. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
- "A Concrete Achievement". Engineering News-Record. New York City: McGraw-Hill. 213 (1): 77. 1984. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
- Mission Statement of Cajundome
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