The $63 million expansion of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium is on budget and on schedule for completion in time for the 2018 home opener next fall.
Messer Construction Co. has made significant progress on the 10,000-seat expansion, which will close the bowl on the north end of the stadium. It's the second stadium expansion in a decade as University of Louisville football continues to grow in national stature.
The project will increase the number of seats in the stadium to 65,000.
U of L athletics director Tom Jurich and senior associate athletic director for development Mark Jurich briefed the media near the construction site Thursday afternoon, saying the expansion will better accommodate the school's long waiting list for season tickets and also give the team a boost in national recruiting circles.
Messer Construction has about 70 workers on site now and will have 150 to 175 people on the job at the peak of construction, said senior project manager Jason Larkin.
Mark Jurich said fans shouldn't worry about parking or tailgating headaches during this upcoming season because the construction should have little to no impact on the gameday experience. Larkin said crews will shut down Friday and return to the site on the Monday after home game weekends.
U of L's home opener is Sept. 16 against the defending national champion Clemson Tigers.
In addition to the seat expansion, the team also is improving the Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex through dramatic changes to the building's training areas, with 100,000 square feet set to be added to double the size of the football team's weight room and conditioning center.
Other improvements to the complex include a new player's lounge, improved coaches' office, team locker rooms and theater-style meeting areas.
Larkin said work will start on the training complex in earnest in January.
Mark Jurich would not say how much money has been raised toward the expansion to date, but he said giving has been robust and that the university hopes to raise enough to fully pay for the addition.
In February, we reported that the Cardinal Athletic Fund, which is leading the fundraising for the expansion, fast-tracked the project after receiving major gifts from Pepsi Co. (NYSE: PEP), Sun Tan City co-founder Rick Kueber and his family, and a $5 million pledge from Louisville-based Norton Healthcare Inc.
That took the total amount raised toward the project from fans and supporters to about $47 million as of February. The Cardinal Athletic Fund also helped sell 1,000 club seats, 70 premium boxes and 12 exclusive field-level suites at the stadium.
Marty Finley covers economic development, commercial and residential real estate, government and sports business.
Louisville Business First