Yesterday, the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns announced they’ll be playing a home game in the Louisiana Superdome to open the 2019 season.  Mississippi State and the Cajuns have been working on this agreement for about a year and it has finally come to fruition.

“We actually started thinking about a home game in the Superdome not long after I first got here,” athletic director Scott Farmer said.  “We called a few schools, but no one was interested.  But about a year ago we started talking to Mississippi State.  Their athletic director (Scott Stricklin) and I spoke and in that first conversation, he didn’t say no.  About a week later we talked again and he said he wanted to try and make it work,”  Farmer said.

Of course, there was a third player in the whole deal, and that was the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“I can’t tell you just how much we were helped by Billy Ferrante (New Orleans Bowl Executive Director).  “He was instrumental in arranging meetings, and also was familiar with their (the NO Bowl’s) arrangement with the people at the Superdome.  That was very instrumental in getting this deal done,” Farmer said.  “We also talked with Rusty Cloutier (Mid South Bank) as long as two or three years ago and he was very enthusiastic and willing to help in any way.”

Under the agreement, the revenue from ticket sales will first be used to take care of expenses for the game, with a cap placed at 200,000 dollars.  “Attendance will obviously be a big part of what the total expenses are,” Farmer explained.  “But there’s a cap, and that will really work to our advantage if there’s a big crowd at the game.”

The school will be allowed to sell electronic advertising on that date, provided it does not conflict with any major advertiser for the New Orleans Saints.  For instance, there can be no agreement with any other car dealer make other than Mercedes-Benz.   This will allow the department to offset original expenses. The Dome will receive all monies from concessions and parking.

After the expenses are paid, UL will receive 57% of all revenue, with 43% going to Mississippi State.  Farmer said it has not been decided whether the game will be a part of the 2019 season ticket package.

“By the time this game takes place, it will have been over a decade since Mississippi State has played a game in New Orleans.  Their fans are already pretty excited about the thought of spending a weekend there,” said Farmer.  “It’s an easy trip for their fans.”  Starkville is less than five hours away from New Orleans.

SCHEDULING

Farmer said FCS teams are now getting as much as $750,000 for playing a guarantee game from Power Five schools.  UL paid McNeese $150,000 in guarantee money.  McNeese also got the revenue from the 2,500 tickets they were given for the game, which generated another $62,500, bringing the total to $215,000.

It was also announced this week the Cajuns have contracted with Ole Miss for a game in Oxford for 2017.  Farmer said the department was unsuccessful in trying to procure a sixth home game for next season.  “We literally called every single FBS school, trying to get the date filled.  We found some who were willing to play, but not come to Lafayette in 2017.  And those who may have been willing weren’t able to make the dates work out.  We were then faced with either playing a second FCS school at home or going on the road for an FBS game.  If we were going to do that, we might as well get a big payday for it.”  Ole Miss is paying $1.3 million dollars for the home game.

The Cajuns will play at Tulsa in 2017 with the Golden Hurricane returning the trip to Lafayette in 2019.  The Cajuns had previously announced a series with Ohio University beginning in Athens in 2019, with the return trip scheduled for Lafayette in 2021.

Farmer also said verbal agreements have been reached with an FCS school for 2018 at Cajun Field and a home and home series with an FBS school for 2018-19 but contracts have not yet been signed.  A guarantee game for 2018 has been confirmed and details should be released soon.  The Cajuns also have a tentative for a guarantee game in 2020.