(The Daily Advertiser) – The University of Louisiana System board voted Thursday to name the baseball complex at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in honor of a Lafayette oil business family — with conditions.
Specifically, the board’s committee on facilities voted in favor of the name change with this change in language:
“The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System hereby approves University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s request for approval to name its baseball complex Russo Park subject to the donor completing the terms of the donation and approval of System Counsel.”
The full board approved that measure later.TRENDING: Stabil lawsuit: FBI could look into potential charges
UL President E. Joseph Savoie submitted to the Board of Supervisors on April 7 a request to name the baseball facility Russo Park, a facility which is undergoing a $10 million upgrade that includes new lights, reconstruction of the grandstand seating area, a new concession area, construction of 10 revenue-producing suites, a club level room behind home plate and a new press box.
Christopher Russo, former chief operating officer of Stabil Drilling Specialties, a company founded by his father, Sammy Russo, pledged $5 million to the project, money to be paid over five years.
Savoie said in a letter to the board the money was pledged for the “philanthropic naming of UL Lafayette’s baseball facility in honor of the entire Russo family.” The gift and naming would “memorialize his father’s dedication to the University and the memories they were able to create as a family there,” Savoie wrote.
However, Christopher Russo was named in a civil action last week in Harris County, Texas, by Superior Energy Services, based in Houston, the parent company to Stabil Drilling.
Superior contends in its documents that Russo and two co-defendants used a variety of companies to “funnel” money — perhaps as much as $65 million — away from Stabil and to themselves for personal profit.READ MORE: UL pursues huge upgrades for sports
Samuel “Sammy Joe” Russo, who died in 2013, graduated UL with a business degree in 1964. He and his wife, Rosary, had three children, all UL grads: Connie, 1987; Christopher, 1990; and Samuel Jr., 1998.Russo, father were avid fans
In his letter to Dan Reneau Jr., interim president of the UL System, Savoie said Christopher and his father were avid baseball fans who spent much time at UL’s field together. The agenda item to be considered by the board says that the elder Russo was “a generous donor to various athletic programs.”READ MORE: Ticket sales boom for baseball
Savoie’s request to rename the park went to the Facilities Plan. The full board considered the request later Thursday.
The initial, formal resolution before the board was “that the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System hereby approves University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s request for approval to name its baseball complex Russo Park.”