The University of Louisville’s Cardinal Athletic Fund (CAF) has accelerated the completion of a $63-million project for Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and the Howard Schnellenberger Complex. With the aid of the football team’s successful 2016 season that saw the school’s highest finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference, a trip to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, a top-20 ranking, and its first Heisman Trophy winner, the Louisville Athletics department has realized overwhelming fundraising success.
Originally scheduled for completion for the 2019 football season, the new expansion will be ready for opening in 2018. The expedited schedule is due to major gifts from Pepsi, the Kueber Family, and a recent $5 million pledge by Norton Healthcare. Additionally, within one year, fans and supporters donated approximately $47 million toward the project.
The Cardinals began construction on the new expansion in November 2016 after the final home game.
The Cardinal Athletic Fund’s staff has helped sell all 1,000 club seats, 70 premium boxes, and 12 exclusive field level suites.
“We are extremely appreciative for Norton Healthcare’s generous gift to allow this project to forge ahead,” Tom Jurich, UofL Vice President and Director of Athletics said. “They have always been a tremendous partner for our department, and this major gift certainly strengthens their commitment. The project is moving along steadily, and I’m very grateful for everyone who has contributed to the future of this program. Their gifts have enabled us to move up the completion date.”
“Norton Sports Health is happy to step up in support of this project, which includes a world-class training facility for student-athletes” said Russell Cox, President and CEO of Norton Healthcare. “We are pleased to partner with the University of Louisville Athletic Association in support of our shared commitment to sports health in this community.”
The first phase of the project that will be noticeable to the fans will be the seating structure for the interior bowl that will be in place for the start of the 2017 season. Approximately 10,000 seats will be added to the north end zone, which will go on sale to the public in early 2018.
Beginning January 1, 2018, renovations are scheduled to begin on the football complex, which includes dramatic changes to the training areas and improving the overall student-athlete experience. An additional 100,000 square feet of space will allow the team’s weight room and conditioning center to double in size, creating space for team workouts, conditioning, and an enhanced athletic training space equipped with a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy area.
A luxurious and spacious players’ lounge, improvements for coaches’ offices and the team locker room, and expansive theatre-style meeting areas also will be among the major improvements dedicated for student-athlete development.
The Cardinals open the 2017 season versus Purdue in a neutral-site game in Indianapolis, Ind., before beginning the 2018 campaign in the expanded Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.