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.
“When complete, a promise will have been fulfilled to all the kids on this campus,” said Tom Jurich. “They’re going to be exposed to the finest academic facility that we know of around the country. Thorntons is doing it for all the right reasons. You’re going to make a bigger difference with this building than any stadium, Yum! Center, soccer stadium or any swimming pool that we could ever build. That’s where our heart beat is going be in the academic center.”
The state-of-the-art center will house operations for the entire athletic department and all student athletes and academic staff. It will house tutorial areas, laboratories, offices, classrooms and break areas for students.
“All of us at Thorntons have been Cardinal fans … forever,” said Matt Thornton, the company’s chief executive officer. “Mark and Tom have come to us many, many times for various opportunities, all good ones but they never really clicked. When we learned about the academic center, we were there. We were there instantly. We really like the idea of having all those athletes in one spot, not running all over campus. We’re proud to be associated with the University and UofL athletics.”
The Thorntons gift raises the overall total to $11 million, including more than $3 million generated from the sale of Maker’s Mark special lablel bottles honoring Charlie Strong, Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich.
* * *
Thorntons also announced a co-branded program with a Cardinal Athletic Fund and Thornton’s Refreshing Rewards Loyalty program card that will be provided to CAF members, with personalized benefits at local stores. Special promotions will benefit CAF members, the details which will be announced by the company in the next few weeks.