Nicholls Fields Receive Upgrade for Manning Camp

Original Release Provided by Quality Sitework Materials

In July, as Nicholls State University was celebrating its 10th year of playing host to some of the nation’s top football talent during the Manning Passing Academy, engineers and contractors were working feverishly behind the scenes to prepare for an important drainage project.

The University received $1.2 million in capital outlay dollars from the State of Louisiana. The state funding is specified for drainage improvements on the campus’ practice fields.

The project was brought to light through the work of Sen. Norby Chabert, and coordinated with efforts by the South Louisiana Economic Council.

The academy is a boon for economic development in the Thibodaux / Houma region.

Each year, for 10 years running now, the Manning Passing Academy brings thousands of high school football players to Nicholls State campus for a four-day event. It’s regarded as the premier offensive football camp in the country.

Vic Lafont, president of the SLEC, says, “We’re pleased to have brought the Academy to Thibodaux, and we’re thrilled to realize this investment, because it provides economic benefit to the community. It’s good for Nicholls State, it’s good for Thibodaux, and it’s good for Louisiana.”

More than 1,300 high school football players attend the camp each year. These players arrive in Thibodaux, for the four-day camp, with their parents and families — most of whom stay in the area, and enjoy Southern Louisiana hospitality.

Part of the reason families and players return to the area each year is because the Mannings have done a good job to emphasize the sense of community spirit and charm of Thibodaux and South Louisiana.

“The Manning family has a great interest in keeping the camp here; but we recognized we were not giving attendees the best experience with some of the drainage issues on the fields,” said Lafont.

Lafont says what SLEC did was approach the state legislature to make the case for making drainage improvements at the Nicholls fields.

“It’s an economic development project, in the best sense,” says Lafont. “The benefit to the region is far and wide. Hotels benefit from having families book room nights. Restaurants benefit by having new people dine in their places. The campus benefits from having thousands of high school kids learn about and visit Nicholls State, and companies in the area benefit when they supply goods and services to the camp.”

All told, the economic impact is just under $2 million annually.

Improvements such as this drainage project help ensure the long term success for the camp, which not only features the “First Family of Football,” but also features rising stars from the college ranks, and retired NFL players.

As camp wrapped in mid July, engineers at T. Baker Smith got to work on the design. A new drainage system was devised, which features nearly 7,000 linear feet of pipe, more than 30 pre-cast concrete catch basins, fabricated polymer coated drainage inlets and geotextile fabric for pipe bedding and joint wraps.

T. Baker Smith worked extensively with Byron E. Talbot, and they were able to work quickly to deliver tangible results.

“From the time we got the go ahead, and by the time Byron Talbot got the drawings happened quickly,” says Joseph Fournet, a project engineer with TBS.

Talbot used GPS guided equipment to level and form the newly minted fields — 25 in all — which will now drain effortlessly, thanks to vision by SLEC, with funding from the State, and work by locally owned companies like Byron E. Talbot and T. Baker Smith