Jordyn Franklin/The Lion's Roar
High schools throughout southeast Louisiana have used the university’s facilities to host football games during the fall semester.
Due to capacity restrictions, a number of high schools have sought out Strawberry Stadium. Approximately 15 events have been held in the stadium thus far.
Andrew Bechac, deputy director of athletics, explained that there is no rental process involved with other schools’ usage of Strawberry Stadium.
“We’re providing an opportunity for local high schools and those that are in southeast Louisiana to come and play at Strawberry Stadium,” explained Bechac. “We have a wonderful historic venue here, which allows them to hit a little bit more attendance because of the restrictions on the number of people that they can have inside the stadium.”
Jay Artigues, director of athletics, echoed a similar sentiment in a video interview with BRProud.
“Because of COVID, this is new — we’re not charging anything,” shared Artigues. “We’re letting the schools come in here and play here. They’re getting 100% of the gate. We’re doing the concessions. It’s a chance to give back to the community and to give back to the high schools.”
Bechac believes that lending out Strawberry Stadium goes hand in hand with developing the university’s relationship with the community.
“We’re looking at not only offering the opportunity to play at Strawberry Stadium, but for all of those fans to come to our beautiful campus and experience Southeastern,” explained Bechac. “It’s a multilevel opportunity for Southeastern to have student-athletes see our wonderful athletic facilities, for parents and friends and fans to be able to come and enjoy Strawberry Stadium, campus and the surrounding community.”
Seeing Strawberry Stadium bursting to life with activity has been a benefit of the events, according to Artigues.
“It’s been great just to see activity at Strawberry Stadium, see life in Strawberry Stadium,” expressed Artigues. “Having the high schools come here and giving them the opportunity, since they’re limited to 25% capacity, they are able to put a lot more people in here, so it’s a win-win for both of us.”
According to Bechac, the lending of facilities is a chance for the university to showcase what it has to offer.
“That is to attract students and those that have an interest in coming to Southeastern as a student or being involved in Southeastern — or just getting our brand out to let people who we are and what we do,” explained Bechac. “Everybody that comes to Southeastern is a valued person when they come onto this campus.”
Artigues detailed the safety precautions that the university is taking during the games.
“We’re doing all of the screening before we come into the stadium,” described Artigues. “We make sure we are following all of the social distancing, the masking, the sanitation stations. We have groups coming in to clean the restrooms and sanitize the restrooms throughout the day and after every ball game as well.”
Bechac emphasized the importance of community between the university and the community alongside helping those in need.
“It’s been a great opportunity for Southeastern to share a facility and help the community and help others in a time of need,” expressed Bechac. “We look forward to our continued relationship with those that have come and hope that more reach out to us.”