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.

State of the Art sound coming to Papa John’s

stdium view

The sound system at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium has been an issue since the stadium opened in 1997, with comments ranging from “inaudible” and “non-existent” in some sections to “perfect” or “too loud” in others.

Many fans have been frustrated in efforts to keep up with P.A. Announcer Sean Moth’s explanations clarifying what just transpired on the field, especially after controversial calls on critical plays. Those days, hopefully, will soon be in the rear view mirror.

Kenny Klein, sports information director at the University of Louisville, has confirmed that three-phase installation of a state-of-the-art sound system is under way as the 2013 football season begins.

“The goal is to provide the highest quality sound to every seat in the stadium,” he said.

“The goal is to provide the highest quality sound to every seat in the stadium,” he said. “We’ve made numerous adjustments over the years to address the challenge, sometimes with varying results affecting different areas of the stadium. We’re taking a comprehensive approach now to provide quality sound for all fans.”

Continue reading “State of the Art sound coming to Papa John’s”

New U of L research park will neighbor with Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium

Growth in academic research provides real dividends to the entire university.

The future of academic research at the University of Louisville is about to get a major boost with the ceremonial groundbreaking for a new research park, which will encompass a triangular-shaped 39-acre parcel of land purchased from Kentucky Trailer four years ago.

The proximity of the park to the Speed Scientific School is a major selling point for private companies and government entities engaged in scientific research.

U of L football fans will have a bird’s eye view of the development, which will occur over a number of years. The research park is literally a stone’s throw from Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

But first will come a $31 million road improvement program and still another grand new entrance (artist’s rendering above) to the U of L campus, this one an extension from Iowa Avenue, providing a bridge over existing railroad tracks into the park. The street improvements are expected to begin this fall.

The UofL Foundation provided $6.2 million to fund the road project and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet provided $24.8 million. State funds will be available July 1. These commitments could well result in massive investments from the private sector over the next decade or so.

Artist’s rendering of the area:

Click to Enlarge


‘Big change’ coming March 1 for UofL Sports

The University of Louisville’s athletic web site carried the following message Tuesday: “Big Change Coming to U of L Sports 3-1-12.”


The message has been taken down, and no additional information has been provided. Not even from the Rivals or Scout message boards, which would normally be ripe with rumors and “insider” information.

We suspect that the “big change” will probably be a redesign of the web site, with a new look and a few new features being added. Hardly earth-shaking as far the U of L athletic department is concerned.

But what if it’s not about the web site, and what if there really were big changes coming. The possibilities are facinating if a major change was coming for the U of L athletic program, such as:

  • Getting the long-awaited invitation to the Big 12 Conference. This would be the ultimate move forward for the university, regardless of what Rick Pitino says publicly.
  • Switching uniform and shoe contracts from adidas to Nike, which seems to have an inside track on influencing many high school recruit decisions these days.
  • Winning back the exclusive radio rights for WHAS radio for U of L basketball and football games. While the medium isn’t as powerful as it once was, it’s still the No. 1 radio station in the university’s home town and shouldn’t be negotiable.
  • Returning to non-assigned parking at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, opening up tailgating to a first-come, first-served basis on game days. While that might be seen as advantageous for many long-time tailgaters, it would have its drawbacks during big games when late arrivals often find no place to park.
  • Airing U of L baseball games on Cards Radio WKRD instead of on WNDA-1570, a Clarksville, Ind., station that sounds eerily like a buzz saw when the sun goes down.

We don’t anticipate any of these things happening March 1, but we will be checking out the U of L web site for confirmation.

A week to be remembered

Another Monday, more conference expansion, possible realignments.

Seems like just yesterday the University of Louisville was joining the Big East Conference. Remember the celebration, hundreds of people gathering to hear Mike Tranghese’s official welcoming lines. Heady stuff back then. U of  L finally arriving into a BCS conference.

Proud, excited, we were, finally getting an opportunity to prove ourselves. The days of the KIAC, the Missouri Valley Conference, the Metro Conference, and Conference USA behind us. Always successful, indispensable to the success of whatever the conference.

Now here we are again waiting to see if Louisville will be invited to join the Big 12 Conference. Plenty of stiff competition out there. Schools with sterling football success and tradition. Schools with good reputations, doing invaluable work in the classroom and their communities.

The extra that U of L brings is being one of the most profitable basketball programs in the nation. Not that that matters when football is king. Just ask Kansas. The $238 million KFC Yum! Center is a trinket compared to all the football TV money up for grabs.

Thanks to Howard Schnellenberger for the crazy notion of actually building a football stadium. Thanks to the work that Bill Olson, Malcolm Chancey and John Shumaker did in getting Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium constructed. Thanks to Tom Jurich and Jim Ransey for getting U of L in the Big East, and for Tom’s courage, foresight and dedication in expanding the stadium to 55,000 seats … those further expansion plans in his back pocket

Thanks to Papa John’s for his $15 million naming and $10 million more for the expansion, the $3 million from Brown & Williamson, the Kiel brothers, UPS, the other corporate sponsors and all the fans who dug deep. Thanks to Bobby Petrino who, during his four seasons, raised the quality of Louisville football to unprecedented levels, giving us a taste of what could be in football.

The exhaustive efforts of many people, community and business leaders and fans recognizing the need to invest in football. They are why we are able to be in this position, awaiting the word, yea or nay.