Tom Jurich pauses on the walkway, his favorite part of the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium expansion. The beams behind him will support a front and back video board even larger than the existing one at the opposite end of the stadium.

Here we go for a tour of the expanding Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. A long walk up the first set of new stadium ramps, a beaming Tom Jurich leading the way, the writers and camera crews falling further and further behind in the 85-degree heat. Always fun to be around TJ when he unveiling a new project.

First stop is the new walkway connecting the east and west sides of the stadium. Jurich is eager to show off what will become a magnet for many U of L fans, especially those who have spent so much time in the corridors in the past.

The walkway measures somewhere in the area of 1,200 x 200 feet in width and length, and will have a capacity for 2,500 people. A new video board will be even larger than the one at the northern end of the stadium, the new one measuring 120 x 50 feet. Jurich noted that the video board will be two-sided for viewing inside and outside the stadium. No game coverage on the street side, but an easy way to promote U of L activities during and between games. Permanent concession stands and additional restroom facilities will be included.

Next is another trek up to the new loge section, which Jurich said was Will Wolford’s idea, giving fans great seats outdoors and convenient access to a 20,000-square-foot lounge, complete with bars and concession areas. Wolford, a Louisvillian and former pro football player, serves as a color analyst on Indianapolis Colts’ telecasts.

Up another set of ramps to the luxury boxes, learning that the windowed area outside the stadium will be adorned with massive U of L graphics covering the exterior surface of the stadium. The luxury boxes are, well, luxury boxes which can be decorated to fit the image of the companies or owners purchasing the rights. The area also comes closely matches the grandeur of the Brown & Williamson Club on the opposite site of the stadium.

The expansion has transformed the facility from a super college stadium to a major sports venue with a heavy emphasis on quality and enhancing the fan experience. It’s the kind of thing U of L fans used to daydream about, but, like many other projects, is becoming a stunning reality under Tom Jurich’s leadership.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.