Remember When: Groundbreaking for Papa John’s in 1996

PJCS-ShovelsBig day for the University of Louisville on June 19, 1996 as members of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees gather at a vacant lot on Floyd Street to break ground on a brand new football stadium, following the completion of a $70 million fundraising campaign led banker Malcolm Chancey and then-Athletic Director Bill Olson. Some of the recognizable people participating in the ceremony were former UofL Coach Howard Schnellenberger, then UofL President Donald Swain, Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson, County Judge Dave Armstrong, City Council member Minx Auerbach, local contractor Bernie Dahlem, and Board Chairman Woodford R. Porter.

The fundraising effort took approximately four  years, and was capped by a $15 million naming rights transaction with Papa John’s Pizza and a $3 million gift from the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation for the B&W Club. Seating capacity when the stadium opened in 1997 was orginally 42,000 seats, and the stadium was expanded in 2009 to 55,000. Record attendance was 55,428 for the game against Miami this season.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

2 thoughts on “Remember When: Groundbreaking for Papa John’s in 1996”

  1. Thanks for resurrecting this picture, Charlie. I remember that groundbreaking day well! After the “dig”nitaries finisheed the formal shoveling, they invited the (small) crowd to put their foot into it. My then 10-year-old son and I obliged….very nice touch to let the commoners play with the dirt, too. Everyone was given a red-handled white garden trowel with attached card commemorating the event. As all were leaving, with prompting, my son took his up to “The Pipe” who obligingly signed the trowel blade. In my own mind, I could hear, “…the only variable is time!”

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