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Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
The Oven, The Slice, Cardinal Stadium, Papa John's, PJCS
PJCSbySportsAddict2.jpg
Location 2800 South Floyd St, Louisville, KY 40209
Coordinates 38°12′21″N 85°45′32″W / 38.20583°N 85.75889°W / 38.20583; -85.75889Coordinates: 38°12′21″N 85°45′32″W / 38.20583°N 85.75889°W / 38.20583; -85.75889
Broke ground 1996
Opened 1998
Owner University of Louisville
Operator University of Louisville
Surface FieldTurf
Construction cost $63 million USD
Capacity 42,000
Tenants
Louisville Cardinals football (NCAA) (1998-present)

Papa John's Cardinal Stadium is a football stadium located in Louisville, Kentucky, USA and serves as the home of the University of Louisville football program. It opened in 1998, making it the next-to-last football stadium in NCAA Division I-A (now Division I FBS) to open in the 20th century, with SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium being the last. The official seating capacity in the horseshoe-shaped facility is 42,000.

Contents

History and fundraising

All of the $63 million cost to construct the stadium came from private funds, which included the purchasing and removal of the South Louisville Rail Yard, a historic rail car repair shop. The factory's shift horn was saved and installed in the stadium's north end zone scoreboard, and sounds every time the Cardinals score.

The new parking at the stadium allowed the university to move some parking for commuting students there, allowing redevelopment of on-campus parking lots into campus housing and athletic facilities.

In 2000, Central Avenue was widened and extended from Taylor Boulevard to Crittenden Drive in the largest non-interstate highway project in Louisville's history, which has been the focus of a major redevelopment project. Because the road connected Churchill Downs, an entrance to the Kentucky Exposition Center (which is home to Freedom Hall) and the university's new baseball venue, Jim Patterson Stadium, all located within a mile of each other, the road has now been dubbed as "Louisville's Sports Corridor."

The stadium was named for "Old" Cardinal Stadium, which is located at the KEC, but with corporate naming rights providing a linguistic distinction. Papa John's Pizza founder and CEO John Schnatter, a native of nearby Jeffersonville, Indiana, donated $5 million for the naming rights to the stadium.

Traditions

  • Prior to the game, The Cardinals run onto the field through fog as they touch the Unitas Statue led by the U of L color gaurd.
  • The Cardinal Bird mascot parachutes into the stadium 10 minutes prior to each game.
  • The Card march is 3 hours and 15 minutes prior to kick-off. Players and coaches are greeted by fans as the walk through the tunnel leading to the stadium.
  • The Victory lap began in the old Cardinal Stadium. After each WIN, Louisville players walk around the stadium and give each fan a high-five.
  • CARDS Chant, goes like this: C-A-R-D-S (letter by letter), C-A-R-D-S (2x fast), Go-Cards-Go!

Physical features

Papa John's Cardinal Stadium's East Side
A night game
A day game
Press box and retired jerseys
Close-Up of Press Box Exterior

There are no bleachers in the stadium; every seat is a chairback seat. This particular feature is fairly common in European soccer stadiums and the NFL, but is very rare in college football. The university claims that PJCS is the only stadium owned and operated by a U.S. university with this feature.

At the north end of the stadium is the Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex, which houses the football offices and the conditioning center for the football team. Also at the north end is a bronze statue of Johnny Unitas, the most famous football alumnus of the university. As part of game day tradition, each Cardinal player touches the base of the statue before entering the field prior to kickoff. In 2006 the $10 million Trager Center, an indoor practice facility that matches the stylish architectural appearance of PJCS, was opened just north of the Schnellenberger Complex, providing a dry and warm area to allow undisrupted practices in Louisville's highly variable weather.

The stadium has also hosted soccer matches, including fixtures for the US women's national team; concerts; auto shows; the Ray Adams Charger Classic, a local high school football event; other high school football games, notably the local rivalry game between St. Xavier and Trinity; and the evangelist Billy Graham; as well as the annual DCI Louisville drum & bugle corps competition.

It was also the annual site of the Kentucky state high school football championship games until the 2009 season, when the games were moved to Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. In 2004 the Kentucky/Tennessee High School Football All-Star Game was moved (on a bi-yearly basis) to the stadium as part of a compromise with the University of Kentucky about whether the two schools' Governor's Cup rivalry game should be played as the first game of the year, with UK wanting the game moved further back in the season.

An interesting feature is the Brown and Williamson Club located at the rear of the stadium's press box. It contains several large ball rooms and is rented out for receptions to bring in additional revenue. It is also often used by the school to host prominent visiting speakers. The venue overlooks the school's new Jim Patterson Stadium and Jewish Hospital Sports Medicine complex, which was completed in 2005.

At the start of the 2006 football season, a new state-of-the-art high definition scoreboard was installed in the north end zone. It is three times as large as the previous scoreboard and has the phrase "The Ville" emblazoned atop it. A new red LED scoreboard was also installed in the south end zone, as was a lighted "University of Louisville" sign around the upper rim of the exterior of the east stands, which increases the stadium's visibility from Interstate 65.

Stadium expansion

In October 2006, an official rendering and details were released of what an expanded stadium would look like and cost. The plan calls for an additional 21,600 seats and 70 suites added via a new upper deck on the side opposite the main press box area, all for a price tag of $63 million, which is almost identical to the cost to build the original stadium.

On August 27, 2007, John Schnatter donated $10 million in support of the expansion, representing the largest donation the athletic program had ever received. While the expansion had been proposed since 2007, the Kentucky General Assembly, the state legislature waited until April 24, 2008 to approve it. The deal will also extend Papa John's naming rights through 2040. [1]

On December 1, 2008, construction was started on the East side of the stadium, with expansion to be completed by Fall 2010. [2]

UofL Football Attendance by Year
Year Average Attendance Percent of Capacity
1998 35,425 82.36%
1999 36,777 87.56%
2000 38,547 91.77%
2001 37,682 89.71%
2002 36,473 86.84%
2003 36,771 87.55%
2004 40,531 96.5%
2005 41,101 97.85%
2006 42,283 100.67%
2007 39,881 94.95%
2008 39,681 94.48%
2009 32,450 77.26%

References

External links

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