Cajun Field opened it's second quarter-century of service as home to the Ragin' Cajun football squad in the 1996 season after the facility celebrated its silver anniversary last season. The facility reached a milestone in 1995 when the Cajuns total attendance since the facility opened topped the two-and-one-half million mark, and another milestone was reached during the 1996 season when 38,783 fans watched the Cajuns upset Texas A&M 29-22. That crowd topped the previous record of 36,133 fans that watched Alabama defeat USL 25-6 in 1990.
"The Swamp", as the stadium is known, has been a site of success for the Cajun program, especially over the past few seasons. USL had compiled a 4-1 record at home in each of the three seasons prior to 1996 and did so again this season. The Cajuns have now won 16 of their last 19 home outings and USL holds an overall mark of 84-54-2 in the facitlity after 26 years of operation.
Cajun Field, described as one of the South's most picturesque and unique football facilities, was constructed in time for USL's 1971 football season, and the characteristics which helped create the name and the tradition have been there since the initial construction.
To start with, the field surface is set two feet below sea level in a natural bowl. In addition to providing a picturesque surrounding, the sunken facility allows most fans to walk down to their seats as a convenience. With the below-sea-level playing surface, a total of four 60-horsepower pumps and a sophisticated connecting drainage system combine to keep the field in solid playing condition even during the frequent south Louisiana rainstorms. (Yes, University of Texas at Austin fans, the same "new sophisticated" pumping system installed under Memorial Stadium's new grass field has been in Cajun Field since the facility was built.)
"The Swamp" name also fits well with the geographicmakeup of the area, with its many surrounding bayous and wetlands areas as well as the close proximity of the Gulf of Mexico (30 miles south). In fact, a popular gathering place for USL students and a regular stop for visitors is the small swamp located in the heart of the main USL campus which backs up to the USL Student Union. The nickname "The Swamp" came about several years ago, starting as an idea because of the natural-bowl field and the proximity to actual wetlands areas. It's even more fitting now, since less than a half-mile away from the stadium stands the National Wetlands Center, a nationally-known research facility that USL hosts and administers.
Cajun players and opponents enter the Cajun Field through a long tunnel from the USL Athletic Complex, and at the top of the tunnel is a large sign reading "Welcome to The Swamp--Two Feet Below Sea Level." The sign, decorated with natural Spanish moss which is indigenous to the area, was provided by the USL Alumni Association.
"It's always a lot more fun to play at home," said USL head coach Nelson Stokley. "Here, though, I think it's a big advantage to our players. Our fans have always been very supportive of our program and are very vocal, and you can see on the sidelines how much more excited our players get when we're playing at home and our crowd is into the game."
Courtesy of Chris Debaillon