The massive edifice of the north end zone expansion at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is impressive. Even more so under the lights during a recent home game. A striking preview into the future of University of Louisville football.
When viewing the concrete and steel framework, it’s impossible not to think about Tom Jurich’s impact on the University. Making UofL athletics nationally competitive in almost every sport, consistently among the top 20 in basketball, baseball, soccer and football.
One has to regret that Tom, who had the vision and the optimism to tackle the project, will probably not be on hand for the official opening on the stadium, which is scheduled Sept. 9, 2018.
Of all the projects TJ has undertaken, this may have been the one he wanted the most. The expansion will be a stunning addition to the stadium, with the addition of 10,000 seats, including 1,000 club seats, 70 premium boxes and 12 exclusive field-level suites.
One is optimistic that Tom’s son, Mark Jurich, will be an integral part of the ribbon-cutting ceremonies and for the opening home game. Tom had put him in charge of the project, fundraising and all, and he appears to be right on target in terms of fundraising and construction.
What would make the event even more special would be for Tom Jurich there as well. Interim Athletic Director Vince Tyra has said Tom is a good friend and he greatly admires what he accomplished at UofL. Tyra should do everything he can do to make that happen.
Still hard to believe for this long time University of Louisville football fan who dared to dream of UofL someday having its own facility while having his view partially obscured by a steel post at the fairgrounds.
But here we are again, back at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for an update on still another expansion. This one a luxurious state-of-the-art, 10,000-seat addition, which will complete the oval. Raising capacity to 65,000 seats, along with growing expectations for the UofL football program.
The construction towers over the north end zone, confirming that the latest addition will be the crown jewel, a striking tribute to college football in Louisville. “The magnitude of it is stunning,” said Tom Jurich, standing in front of the massive combination of wood, concrete and steel framework on Thursday.
The Vice President of Athletics confirmed that the project is on time and under budget and will be complete in time for the home opener in 2018.”I don’t think any college in the country can compete with this as far as the uniqueness of it,” he said.
It’s no secret that Tom has delegated most of the responsibility, including the fundraising and construction, of the stadium expansion to his son Mark Jurich, senior associate athletic director.
The younger Jurich said he is excited for UofL fans who will occupy the end zone expansion. “Our fans are going to be right on top, giving our players an atmosphere unlike anything they’ve experienced before,” he said.
“I’m excited to know they participated in this being built, buying seats, buying tickets to see this,” he said. “It is just the next step the football program and the university are taking together.”
These premium seats will have access to two premier gathering areas; the Pepsi Club, which will provide viewing access to the field, and another premium club, which will be similar to AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
All of the concrete work is expected to be complete by this year’s home opener against Clemson on Saturday, Sept. 16th. Serving notice to the Tigers and the rest of the college football world that the UofL football program intends to be a major player, now and in the future.
Many more details were made available on the $55 million expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium during a press conference on Thursday. The latest project in the University of Louisville’s commitment to having the best facilities in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Pepsi is in for $5 million. Planet Fitness for $3 million. The fundraising campaign is in high gear now, with Tom Jurich eager to get to the groundbreaking as soon as possible. With $8 million already in the proverbial bank and with other donors already reviewing their budgets, the campaign is off to a fast start.
Mark Jurich, son of Tom and senior associate athletic director, said the project has received an enthusiastic response from local corporations. He described the end zone addition as Crunch Zone 2.0, saying it would significantly enhance the fan experience at the stadium. “Support for the concept has been overwhelming in the community,” said Mark.
The 10,000-seat expansion will include 1,000 club seats, 70 premium boxes, and 12 exclusive field level suites. They will provide access to the exclusive Pepsi Club gathering area, similar to the existing B&W and PNC clubs on the east and west sides of the stadium. It also will include a walkway connecting both sides of the stadium, making it accessible to all UofL fans.
The Howard Schnellenberger complex will be expanded as well, with an additional 40,000 square feet that will double the weight and training facilities. New meeting rooms and recreational areas, including a movie theater, will be available to the football players.
“As important as this project is to our department, we want to get it done as soon as we can,” said Mark.
Tom indicated that construction would take at least two years to compete and would not cause any disruption with home football games. Although he would like to have it done in time for the 2018 season, he has little doubt that will be done for the Notre Dame game that kicks off the 2019 home schedule.
Pretty cool that Jerry Brumleve, an individual I got to know and respect as a friend and co-worker at Brown & Williamson a few years back, was the first big winner in the Cardinal Athletic Fund’s Year of the Fan promotion.
He and wife, Yvonne, won a trip to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Classic football game between the University of Louisville and Auburn on Sept. 5. The prize package includes two airplane tickets, a two-night stay at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel (the team hotel), and a bundle of UofL gear.
They also were honored with a neighborhood party Tuesday, with none other than Mark Jurich, associate athletic director, the Ladybirds dance team, and some Chick-fil-A employees pouring out of a bus in front of their house on Tuesday. The Brumleves invited several neighbors to join the party.
“We had a great time,” said Brumleve. “We were shocked that we won and happy to get together with UofL staff and fans and, of course, the Ladybirds. We’re very appreciative and supportive of UofL sports.”
The only wrinkle is that the Brumleves had already planned to drive to Atlanta with some close friends and wanted to honor that commitment. With UofL’s okay, they gave the free flight and game tickets to their daughter Melanie and their nephew Ben Horn. Jerry’s generosity only goes so far, however. He kept the UofL gear.
Brumleve was one of more than 3,000 people who have signed up for the CAF’s Year of the Fan campaignduring the first week. UofL is rewarding fans for their loyalty and support over the years. It is also open to UofL fans who are not season ticket holders.
Fans who enter will be eligible for free tickets to different games, seat upgrades, parking upgrades, concession discounts and VIP access to other events, reports Megan Gormley, executive director of development. Already in the plans is another free trip with tickets and hotel accommodations for the ACC Tournament in March.
“The concept presents a great opportunity for us to thank our fans for their belief in our vision and for their unwavering support of Cardinal Athletics,” said Jurich. “They are small tokens of our deep gratitude for the loyalty of Card Nation.”
Aug. 28 – 40 tickets will be given away to the men’s soccer game vs William and Mary. Fans who sign up online or use the Twitter hashtag #yearofthefan will be eligible.
Aug. 30 – Invitation to a rules session before the field hockey game. Fans who bring their Year of the Fan ticket will receive free popcorn at the concession stands.
Aug. 31 – 40 tickets will be given away to the men’s soccer game vs Stanford. Fans who signed up online or use the hashtag #yearofthefan Twitter hash tag will be eligible.
Sept. 1 – 50% discount at Cardinal Authentic in Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium for fans who bring their Year of the Fan card. The store will have extended hours for the day (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
Sept. 4 – Football locker room tour for five fans and guests.
Sept. 8 – 40 tickets to the men’s soccer game vs Kentucky. Fans who sign up online or use the hashtag #yearofthefan will be eligible.
Sept. 11 – Free popcorn at volleyball for fans who bring their Year of the Fan ticket.
Sept. 12 – Fans who register online can receive upgrades to Loge football seating for the Houston home opening football game, upgrades to premium parking, pregame field access, drink coupons, and official Adidas gear.
Thorntons convenience stores have just become the quick stop of choice for many more University of Louisville fans.
The locally based chain, which has 177 gasoline and convenience stores in six states, announced a matching gift of $3 million toward the construction of the new Academic Center for Excellence to be built adjacent to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The Tuesday press conference was held in the Card March tunnel facing the South end of the stadium where the academic center will be located.
Mark Jurich, who has spearheaded the fundraising drive, said recently that he expects to have the $14 million in hand by the end of the year. He said Tuesday that he anticipates construction to begin in February or March 2015, expecting completion in time for the 2016 academic year.