Update: Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium expansion

Not much new in the way of construction at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Friday afternoon, at least inside the stadium.

The earth moving equipment seemed to be about the same place as it was when we last visited about four weeks ago. The only sign of actual construction appeared to be on the beginnings of what appears to be a concrete bunker in the southwest corner.

For now, University of Louisville football fans will have to be happy with a 2017 football recruiting class that has been ranked as high as 20th by some analysts. National signing day is Wednesday, February 1.

Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium expansion update

The end of the 2017 football season may have been a downer for University of Louisville football. However, the future continues to look bright with the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Lots of work going on on Wednesday, with crews hard at work at the Floyd Street complex. A 10-foot chain link fence has installed just outside the north end zone, where the foundation of the 10,000-seat addition will be visible during the 2017 season.

Work also continues on the front of the football complex, across from the Trager indoor practice facility, where utility lines are being installed.

Jurich wants to expand PJCS but not without due diligence

Tom Jurich said for the first time publicly Tuesday that he’s in favor of expanding Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. But he also indicated more study is needed before the University makes a final decision on upgrading the stadium.

“We’re looking at it very hard. It’s something we want to do,” said the Vice President of Athletics of the University of Louisville during a meeting of the Central Cardinal Club at PJCS. “I’m not saying we’re going ahead with it because there’s a lot we have to do behind the scenes. If we do expand, we want to make sure it’s not just a bunch of extra seats.”Papa_John's_Cardinal_Stadium_after_expansion_in_2010

Jurich said he recently took a tour of Cowboys Stadium in Dallas with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his family. “They do things right there, and we got a lot of good ideas out of that,” he said. “I’m very proud of our stadium but before we do anything I want to ensure that whatever we do is first class. The wow factor is always a part of my vocabulary.

“We’re moving toward our goal and our goal is to build it but first we’ve got make sure there are no obstacles and that everybody is on board.”

He also announced that the 2019 home game against Notre Dame would be the season opener on Labor Day, a Monday game that will be nationally televised.

For almost an hour, Jurich answered dozens of questions, encouraging fans to ask about any aspect of the athletic program. Jurich gave the impression he wasn’t going to leave the podium until fans had no more questions. The following are his responses to some of the issues:

Paying or providing stipends to college athletes?

“My stance on that will never change. I’m not in favor of paying athletes. I think they get a heck of a deal, much more than you put a dollar figure on, the connections they make, the comradery, the networking, the tutoring they get. I think 99% of the athletes are appreciative of what they get. But you’ve got a lot of outside influences pushing these kids, and it sounds better coming from an 18- or 19-year-old kid than from a 45-year-old attorney. If they do wind up paying athletes, they have to pay them all.”

The PJCS party deck and empty seats?

“Fans have changed. You’re not going to tell 17- to 22-year-old college students to stay in their seats for four hours.”

Improving wireless access in PJCS?

“We’re planning on installing a DAS (distributed antenna system) system. That should enable people to do anything they want on a cell phone inside the stadium.”

One and done system for basketball?

“Some people have done well with it but I like the way we’re doing. It works for UK but what we do works for us. There’s nothing Rick Pitino enjoys more than seeing his kids graduate, watching them grow.”

Swimming program potential and facility?

“Arthur Albiero has done a great job with this program. The men’s program is currently seventh nationally … We’d love for the facilities to be bigger but they are adequate. When you have some success, fans want to come and it becomes a hotter ticket ”

Stronger signal for UofL baseball radio broadcasts?

“We’re working on that and making some progress.”

 Future of the silo site?  

(Smiling) “We’d like to have the Yum! Center there. If we could pick it up and move it. It would have been the perfect place for the arena … If they want to kick us out downtown, we have the perfect place for an arena.  Right now, we have no plans for the site. We’ll go along with whatever the university wants to do.”

Financials of the KFC Yum! Center?

The financials are fine. We’re taking some heat from some people but UofL is keeping the lights on there.

Adding another sport?

“I just don’t see the need for another sport right now. We’re doing well with Title IX and it’s important that we stay balanced. We don’t see any need to expand beyond the 23 sports we have now and risk diluting any of them.”

The UofL golf course?

“We’ve invested in it already and want to make some more improvements so that it’s state of the art. Our goal is to make it the best facility in Louisville next to Valhalla. We want to have a lot of social activities and make the venue available to everybody. The golf is for league play and the members.”

ACC TV Network?

“It’s in discussion … Everybody wants to make sure it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Jurich: Stadium expansion not a sure thing

The University of Louisville has issued a request for proposals to study the feasibility of expanding the north end of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium but any expansion is far being a sure thing.

That’s what Tom Jurich, vice president of athletics, told a group of boosters Wednesday evening.

“I don’t have any numbers in mind, and to be honest with you, I don’t know yet if we’re going to do it,” he said. “All we’re doing is a feasibility study.  I not going to move forward on anything I don’t feel comfortable with. I want to make sure that it’s right and it looks great. I don’t want throw a bunch of seats in the end zone and say, well we did expansion.

“If we do something, I want to it  to be first class, I want to stay with our wow factor. I want to make sure it fits with what we’re doing and that we can sell it and, aesthetically, continue to make the stadium as beautiful as it is … Essential to the feasibility study first of all is the demand. We’re talking about end zone seats, not 50-yard-line seats. They may come out and say don’t do it. If they do say that, we won’t.”

The request for proposals states that the results of the study would include whether an expansion is feasible and number of seats, pricing, and amenities that could be supported with the proposed expansion. The completion of the feasibility study would be due no more than three months after the contract is awarded.


Stadium expansion fever inevitable for Louisville football

Can you feel it yet? Stadium expansion fever is coming.

If Charlie Strong is openly discussing the possible expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the bulldozers can’t be far behind.

The head football coach doesn’t talk about stadium expansion without having broached the subject with Tom Jurich, the vice president of athletics. Strong has said more than once that TJ has never turned down a request to improve the football program. So if expansion is what Charlie wants, we can assume that Jurich is probably on board.

All three of the first three games were sold out in the 55,000-seat stadium, with an average of 53,522 persons in attendance. For such foes as Miami, Ohio; Eastern Kentucky and Florida International, suggesting that the fan base has advanced to the point that it will turn out to support UofL football no matter who the opponent may be that day. As long as the team is winning, of course.

Upcoming games against Rutgers and Central Florida, two of the strongest teams on the schedule, are certain to be sellouts. Add in Houston, which is undefeated right now, and rival Memphis in the final game, and a new all-time attendance record is all but assured this season.

Entering the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, advancing from one of the softest schedules in the country to the strongest in the school’s history with Florida State, Miami, NC State, and Wake Forest coming to PJCS. Demand for seats is going to be through the roof.

Seems like no-brainer, time to expand. The only question then is how to proceed and how soon. The quicker the better. Probably too late for have anything done for next season so it would have to be during the next two three years. I’m pretty confident UofL could sell as many as 75,000 seats for the game against Notre Dame in Louisville in 2017.

All sorts of ideas have been tossed around, including adding second tiers to the west side above the Brown & Williamson Club or above the party deck in the south end zone. Adding second stories to those sections would be unsightly, greatly detracting from the stadium’s overall appearance.

The most logical step, and the one Charlie Strong favors, would be closing in the north end, possibly raising the seating capacity to  70,000 seats or significantly more if the expansion didn’t have to include additional luxury suites to help finance the project.  The only minus would be obscuring the view of the Howard Schnellenberger football complex, which would be more than offset by the presence of thousands more UofL football fans.

The new addition would have to include an authentic tunnel from the complex, making the start of games more dramatic, and the Johnny Unitas Statue would finally be repositioned or moved to another location. Things that most fans want to happen.

Keep Charlie Strong happy. Reinvest in the product, invest for the future. Let’s get it started.