CardinalCabooseCardinal Express tailgaters Jerry Roby, Dirk Bowman and Doyle Mayton prepare their party venue for tailgating a day prior to the University of Louisville football team’s opening game against Ohio University. The caboose includes a stained glass Cardinal window crafted by Jane Cogburn, a member of the group.

By Barbara Springer

The anticipation, the hype, the expectations …

Just Friday I had asked the Observer, “Does it seem like Sunday will never get here?”

Late Saturday morning, we somehow wind up at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and environs. Ostensibly, to locate our new parking spot in the Green Lot, but the observer naturally wants to check anything and everything moving in or around the stadium.

Floyd Street has  been resurfaced and there’s a new road south of the stadium, hopefully making going to and from the games a little less hectic. Turning into the Green Lot, we see the place is buzzing, a veritable bee hive. Golf carts going about their business on a newly resurfaced parking lot, white lines and parking spot numbers clearly visible.

“Anytime Portable” trucks attending to dozens of bright yellow porta pots. Stadium crews setting up metal gates for ticket collection and crowd control at the entrances. A half dozen Budweiser trucks unloading their freight on the concourse beneath the stands, accompanied by Papa John’s delivery trucks, and Gators on various missions throughout the complex.

Over on the west side, the serious partiers who rent the Cardinal Express cabooses are taking care of last minute details, some washing windows, others working on their barbecue grills, people with brooms or vacuum cleaners, work to get done on the eve of the opening game.

Elsewhere, a father and daughter are making their way to the Cardinal Authentic store. Two young men leaving, with red jerseys in hand. Gotta be ready, new season, new stuff.

The electronic ribbons inside the stadium are lit up, welcoming fans to PJCS. The brilliant new turf is ready, ready for action, ready to dazzle. “Fans are going to be awestruck by that new playing surface,” I observe. An ESPN TV camera is already positioned beneath the north goal post, and a half dozen TV trucks are huddled outside the gate.

Exiting the stadium lot, we drive around campus, admiring the beautification efforts of James and Jane Ramsey, appreciating just how far the campus has come in the past decade. University markers above, to the sides, and beneath the wheels as we soak it all in. The transformation just keeps on transforming.

On Sunday we will return to PJCS, ready to take our place among thousands of UofL fans, the tailgating, the Card March, the pre-game fireworks, the blare of the train horn … and everything else that makes Louisville football so immensely gratifying.

“And stay right here ’cause these are the good old days.” (Carly Simon)

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