Changing vistas at the University of Louisville

When University of Louisville students return for the 2015-16 school year, some of them aren’t going to recognize some of the changes that have occurred over the summer. The observer was on campus Wednesday checking out some of the upgrades.

Research-Park

An entirely new view of the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus from the recently-completed flyover drive for the Belknap Engineering and Applied Sciences Research Park. Motorists enter the road from Third Street and Iowa Avenue, with an exit to parking at the J. B. Speed School, and on to Eastern Parkway. The road has yet to be named. Any suggestions?

Floyd-Street

Floyd Street remains an obstacle course with traffic cones and construction equipment as beautification efforts continue, with a goal of completion by the time students return the week of August 24th. Whether the underground utility work will be done by then is anybody’s guess.

New EntranceAnother new entrance at Floyd and Warnock streets, providing a greatly enhanced entryway onto one of the busiest intersections on campus. That’s the Ralph Wright Natatorium in the background. A new visitors center will be located on the opposite side of Floyd Street, across from the campus McDonald’s.Silo SiteThis view is significant for what’s not there. That would be the 22 silos which towered over the campus for more than 70 years. Also missing is the Oak tree that was adjacent to the old administrative offices. The site will serve as a temporary parking location for University of Louisville football, at least through the 2015 season.

U of L’s front porch gets some work

The observer misses the sense of anticipation that came with the construction of the KFC Yum! Center and the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for the basketball and football programs last summer. So he drives out to Belknap Campus to see what’s going down at the University of Louisville. He is not disappointed.

The surprise is all the work being done on the Oval in front of the Grawmeyer Administration Building where The Thinker is overseeing the beginning of the final phase of a multi-million-dollar beautification effort. The site is a real mess right now, occupied by back hoes, piles of dirt, and construction trucks. No green grass or flowers for a while.

The design of the Oval will reflect the vision of famed parks designer Frederick Law Olmsted and includes replacing the roadway surface with bricks, lighting of the Grawemeyer Hall exterior; replacing the building and Oval steps, installing an irrigation system, enhancing existing landscaping and replacing the existing sod.

The Thinker will be removed temporarily as the project continues. Parking lots are accessible but the circular drive in front of the administration building is partially closed. The project is being done by Marrillia Design & Development, based in Lexington (better do a good job).

The first part of the project, of course, was the new entrance featuring granite structures and fountains designed by Rowland Design and Carman Landscape Architecture. The lighting and fountains are currently turned off because of the other construction work.

Rowland Design Photo

Another Papa John’s Expansion Update

Which University of Louisville football fanatic doesn’t want to see yet another video of the stadium expansion? It’s a little shaky because (multiple choice): 1. The observer had given his film crew the day off,  2. The ground was moving because of the great football recruiting class or 3. The observer was walking around and it was cold outside.

Tangible Evidence Of Stadium Expansion

The National Rent-A-Fence Company has erected a fence around the parking area east of the stadium and construction crews are putting the finishing touches on two large double-wide trailers that will serve as construction headquarters for Abel Construction Company.

Abel Construction is the general contractor for the project. So the first steps in the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium are taking place. As one of the men working on setting up the trailers told this observer, “This thing is gonna happen, and it’s going to be great. They will be moving construction equipment in next.”

Tom Jurich
Tom Jurich

Exciting news, especially for Card fans who occupied the old baseball stadium over at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center. The stadium expansion is moving forward, come hell or high water.

The setting up of the construction management offices is tangible evidence that Tom Jurich, Vice President of Athletics, remains firmly committed to the future of University of Louisville football. There are issues, yes, but Jurich recognizes that you have to build now for the future.

“One of the things that Tom has been able to do has been to upgrade all of the athletic facilities to another level,” said Bob Benson, a member of the U of L Athletic Association’s board of directors. “There is visible evidence throughout the campus, the natatorium swimming facility, the baseball stadium, the field hockey complex, the lacrosse stadium. We’ve also got a great new facility (the new downtown basketball arena) going up at Third and Main streets downtown.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to tackle these major projects in a very tough economy. Tom Jurich, with the help of people like Jim Host and others, has provided the leadership and deserves credit for the work he has done and continues to do.”

Some would question whether that long-term future will include Steve Kragthorpe, who will be the head football coach for at least another year. Next season will have its trials and disappointments for sure. In either case, stadium expansion is moving forward.

Seating capacity after completion of the first phase of the expansion will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 55,000 to 57,000.