Stadium expansion fund raising going well, thanks

The natural target date for the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium has always been September 2019 when the University of Louisville and Notre Dame football team are scheduled to collide at PJCS.

Count on UofL making that happen, possibly a year sooner.Screenshot 2016-04-15 09.39.05

Vice President of Athletics Tom Jurich said Thursday that UofL has raised approximately $20 million. That’s $12 million more than was announced on Feb. 4, when UofL announced that $8 million had been pledged. That included corporate sponsorships of $5 million from Pepsi and $3 million from Planet Fitness.

Now comes the grind, shaking the bushes for the additional $30 million to make the expansion of the stadium a reality. Tom, along with his son Mark, who heads up the fund raising effort, are confident the project will happen. They indicated that expansion was likely to begin when they have raised at least half of the money.

UofL has commitments for all 12 of the premium boxes and about half of the 70 exclusive club level suites.

They indicated that the project was inevitable when they had raised at least of the money. Construction could possibly begin at the end of the 2016 season and be completed in time for the 2018 season.

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.

New Louisville stadium manager oversees Papa John’s upgrades

Michael Ortman, the new Stadium Manager at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, says several changes have been made at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to enhance the fan experience during the University of Louisville football team’s first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Ortman, who previously was Director of Operations for the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, for 17 years, succeeded K. C. Scull who retired during the past year after about 15 years in that post. Ortman oversaw all aspects of the Soldier Field operations, including the stadium, the 98 acres of park land, and parking structures. He was also deeply involved in the multi-million-dollar expansion of Soldier Field.

Michael Ortman
Michael Ortman

Among his first duties at PJCS was to complete the installation of a new state-of-art sound system, which he says will rival any sound system found in the National Football League. The sound system required a multi-phase process over two seasons, which he hopes will be completed in time for the opening game against the Miami Hurricanes.

Continue reading “New Louisville stadium manager oversees Papa John’s upgrades”

Reviewer rates Papa John’s stadium among the best

Papa-John's

Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium receives high marks in a recent review by Stadium Journey, a web site that grades sports facilities. While the reviewer gave PCJS high marks, he is effusive in his description of the total experience surrounding University of Louisville football games.

A great college game day experience awaits everyone at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Like bourbon sitting in a charred-oak barrel, the experience should improve as time marches on.  Louisville is a great city to visit without football, but made just a little bit better when a Cardinals football home game is played in the fall.

Marc Viquez says UofL’s return on investment in the stadium is through the roof, making Louisvi459_Playing_Catch_in_Front_of_Papa_John's_Cardinal_Stadiumlle much more than a basketball school, with the football program rising from mediocrity to a powerhouse since completing the stadium. Indeed, UofL has appeared in nine bowl games, claiming two BCS bowl wins, in 15 seasons at PJCS.

He rates the stadium’s food and beverage selections as among the best in country, awarding them five out of five stars, with “plenty of food choices inside the stadium that should appeal to all taste buds.”

Overall, Viquez gives the stadium an overall rating of three out of five stars, with additional ratings for atmosphere, neighborhoods, fans, access and extras.  He also includes a gallery of 27 photos from his visit.

Check out the full review here.

Booster shot for UofL academic center

Taking a break from a booster event, a recent visitor to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium wandered up the suite level on the east side just to check things out.

The first thing he saw was large block letters in metal reading “Stites & Harbison Suite Level.” Hmm. “Must be a big donor,” he concluded, but not recalling any recent major donations from the Louisville law firm.

Similar markings are apparently on the west side as well.

Now we know why.

The University announced Wednesday that Stites & Harbison has donated $2 million toward construction and support of the planned UofL Academic Center of Excellence.  The $14 million facility will be located beneath the Norton Terrace at the south end of the stadium.

Stites & Harbison, headquartered in Louisville, is one of the oldest law practices in the nation and among the largest law firms in the Southeast, with offices in Atlanta, Alexandria, Va., Frankfort, Franklin, Tenn., Jeffersonville, Lexington and Nashville.

The observer worked at one point with James Stites, one of the firm’s founders, when Stites was President of the Louisville Area Chamber of Commerce. Making a donation to such a great cause was so typical of him.