Ahead of the 2018 football season, the University of Louisville is making major changes to Papa John’s Cardinals Stadium. The university is expanding the stadium through a project that will lead to improvements to fan and player amenities, including the addition of premium seating and upgraded team facilities.
For the last several years, Louisville has been planning an expansion project that affects the stadium’s north end. The $63-million renovation will enclose the north end zone, while adding new seating options to the stadium and improving team facilities. The Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium expansion was previously targeted for a 2019 completion, but Louisville was able to move the completion date up to 2018 due to successful fundraising efforts.
The renovation is a multi-faceted project, as it addresses team facilities while improving fan amenities. An expanded Schnellenberger Football Complex behind the new seating section will include a modern weight room, locker room, meeting spaces, and players’ lounge.
What will be perhaps the most visible addition, however, is the new seating area. The expansion is expected to add about 6,000 seats to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium—which has a pre-expansion capacity of 55,000—and result in some unique premium areas. More from the Courier-Journal:
There will be 12 field-level suites (10 of them have been sold already, athletic director Vince Tyra said) at a price tag of a $200,000 donation in addition to premium boxes ($1,000 donation), club level-seats ($500 donation). Additionally, season tickets for these premium and club seats go for more than $400 per season.
Sales, Trya said, have been “terrific” in “all aspects of our premium seating.” He estimated “90-plus percent” of the 68 premium boxes have been sold and that there are “maybe a handful” of seats left in the club level.
Those in the suites and premium boxes will get to hang out before games in a lounge behind the end zone. It was designed so that Louisville’s team will run through it on the way to the field.
“The players will literally be walking through our fans when they come through this area,” said Tyra, conjuring up the idea of an odd contrast of fans in high-dollar seats mingling at the lounge bar and putting down drinks just in time to welcome football players, lined up and ready to roll.
With the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium renovation, it appears that Louisville is taking a layered approach to bolstering its football program. The addition of premium seating could provide a revenue boost, while the improved athletic facilities should aid in recruiting efforts.
The expansion is currently on track to be completed in time for the 2018 season. Louisville’s first regular-season game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is scheduled for September 8, when the Cardinals host Indiana State.
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