TRANSCRIPT | PJCS expansion news conference - WDRB 41 Louisville News

TRANSCRIPT | PJCS expansion news conference

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Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino and athletic director Tom Jurich discuss Papa John's Cardinal Stadium expansion. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford) Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino and athletic director Tom Jurich discuss Papa John's Cardinal Stadium expansion. (WDRB photo by Eric Crawford)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After announcing it to a booster club dinner on Thursday night, University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich's announcement of an expansion plan for Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Friday was no surprise, but Jurich, along with his son and associate AD Mark Jurich and football coach Bobby Petrino, provided more details in a 25-minute news conference at the stadium today.

Below is a transcript of their remarks. Questions are paraphrased, answers are transcribed.

OPENING STATEMENT FROM TOM JURICH: We always said that if we were going to close the end zone, we were going to do it first class. We didn’t want to just throw in a bunch of bleachers and do a bowl and do a horseshoe. We wanted to make sure it had a lot of amenities and was very attractive to not only our fans but our community because the community will have a lot of opportunities to use this stadium when we’re not playing. Bobby (Petrino) can tell you how much this area (the recruiting lounge) is used right  now. But I think one thing that’s kind of getting a little bit lost in this expansion is what is going to be done to this complex itself, the Schnellenberger Complex. Pretty much everything. A 25,000-square foot addition. A lot of new great things that Bobby wanted to incorporate into the program. That’s the thing we wanted. We wanted to be cutting edge. We wanted it to be very attractive for our fans.

Q: What’s the timetable?

TOM JURICH: ASAP. We’re not trying to make it for any game. We’re not trying to beat a deadline. If we could hit the lottery tonight, we’d start as soon as those plans were bid on. That’s what we would do.

BOZICH | Stadium expansion another textbook Tom Jurich move

Q: How are you going to fund it?

TOM JURICH: We’re going to raise the money.

Q: When will you actually start (fund-raising)?

TOM JURICH: He (Mark Jurich) has been working on that. He’s well into that already. We’re still working on it. It will be a work in progress all the way through. 

Q: Can you play in the stadium while the construction is going on?

TOM JURICH: Oh, yeah.  We will play during it, just like we did the  last expansion. Bobby (Petrino) will be the one inconvenienced. But I think he’ll like the end result a lot better than what the inconveniences will be. So that will be exciting.

Q: How confident are you that you’ll be able to fill an additional 10,000 seats?

TOM JURICH: We’re very confident. We’re very confident. Our fan base has responded every step of the way. I think now that we’re in the ACC and have this wonderful platform, playing the type of schedule that we’re playing, the exciting ball that we know is coming right around the corner, we’re not worried about that at all.

Q: You’ve mentioned this expansion will cost about $55 million. Louisville FC wants a new stadium built for $60 million. They’re also trying to raise money. Do you foresee competition?

TOM JURICH: Not really. No. I’m sure they’ll do very well and be very successful. I know Wayne, the president of their company. He’s a very sharp guy. I’m sure they have a plan in place also.

Q: Bobby, what does it mean to have a unique stadium like this? It’s not just that you have an expanded stadium, but this one in college football is extremely unique?

BOBBY PETRINO: Oh, yeah. Every time we bring a recruit here and they see what we have now, they’re so impressed because of all the individual chairback seats and all the facilities that we do have. I think the thing that is so exciting for us is the fact that when we bring young men to our campus and their families, they get to see that our administration is completely committed to the student athlete. Last night we sat up there and were having an event for the Thornton’s Academic Center that’s been started. So our players get to see the commitment that we have to their degree, our graduation rate, our APR.  We bring them on campus and we have a weight room that we’ll expand, too. It shows them that we’re going to try to do everything possible to allow them to get their body  to the best it can possibly be to perform. Then to have the expansion to our training facility so the parents understand that everything that we do is to allow them to get healthy and stay healthy and get back on the  field as quick as possible. One of the things that I was thinking about last night when I was sitting up there was I remember walking out there with Tom when I was here as an assistant. He made me put on a hard hat helmet. The stadium was just being built. And there was railroad tracks on the 50-yard line. And Tom said, we’re going to play in here in September next year. I’m thinking to myself,’ Yeah, right.’ We all know if Tom says something is going to happen, it’s going to happen. We’re really excited about it. Can’t thank Tom enough. We thank Dr. (James) Ramsey. All our fans and all our boosters. It’s going to truly be where our recruits can understand everything we do here is to allow them to excel and become the best possible player they can become.”

PHOTO GALLERY | Renderings of the PJCS expansion 

Q: Bobby, what were the main things that you wanted in terms of expanding this training facility?

BOBBY PETRINO: To expand, we were looking at some new meeting rooms. A team meeting room so that we can teach. Do a better job in the classroom of teaching the game of football and allowing them to get better in the classroom, which is one part of it. Mark had already talked about the idea of the expansion of the weight room and the training facility and locker room. Really the only thing I tried to add to it a little bit was to get another team meeting room and a couple of other meeting rooms for our positions so that we could teach better.”

Q: Bobby, will this recruiting room expand or will you do something else for a recruiting lounge?

BOBBY PETRINO: Where you’re sitting right now? It’s going to be a little bit different. But we’re definitely going to have an area for the recruits, for a recruiting lounge and a players’ lounge. We want to really update our players’ lounge.

Q: How important is it to stay ahead of the curve in college athletics? It’s not like you’re trying to keep up with somebody else. You’re kind of setting the bar. 

TOM JURICH: Well, I don’t think we’ve been chasing anybody. I really don’t. I understand your question. But I think from our standpoint, what is the best thing that we can do for the University of Louisville? Taking our stadium to 66,000-67,000 seats is going to be perfect size for us. I don’t think anybody in the country has a stadium like ours that now will have almost three NFL-type clubs. You know you have the PNC Club, the Brown and Williamson Club and the Kent Taylor Club. It’s going to be beautiful. It will be a good thing. To say we’re trying to keep up with anyone, we’re not. We want to do our own thing.  This is probably, for all intents and purposes probably the last expansion we’ll do on this stadium for quite a while. I never want to say never. But I think for quite a while because where would you go next and really make it appealing? That’s the one thing we always want to have everything be appealing. The most important thing, like Bobby said, we wanted to attack the academic center. We got that done. That’s on the way right now. It’ll be done next July. Thank goodness for the Thornton family for what they’ve done for us there. Then we wanted to take care of the training room and the weight room, where the players spend their entire lives, pretty much. So we wanted to take care of that. That  was Bobby’s biggest interest, to make sure those two areas were taken care of. So we’ve got academics. We’ve got training. We’ve got strength and conditioning. We’re in great shape. So the football piece will fall into place.

Q: The arms race in college athletics, you’ve always said you’re not a happy guy unless there’s a crane in the sky?

TOM JURICH: Yeah, cranes are good.

Q: If you look at the pie, so to speak of what’s happened here, since 1998, how many changes, this is sort of the latest step in all of that.

TOM JURICH: It is. But when you look at all our changes, we needed to make those changes. We needed to build the facilities that we needed to have. Thank God for Owsley Frazier. He got us off the ground, just getting Cardinal Park in place and all the needs that filled for us. Not only is it a great front lawn for this campus, but it was something we had to have. You have seen how all our women’s athletic programs have really flourished because of it. I kind of believe a little bit in, ‘If you build it they will come,’ motto. You’ve got to have wonderful facilities to be able to attract top coaches. You’ve got to have great facilities to be able to attract top recruits. I’m not thinking out of the box here. That’s pretty normal business.

Q: Mark, logistically how difficult is this one to plan with the building here already?

MARK JURICH: It causes a little bit of a challenge because obviously we have a great structure here. As we talked about how we’re going to format the stands and how high we’re going to go up and how far we’re going to be able to go back, that played an impact because you don’t want to inconvenience the football coaches and the team as much. But one of the things we looked at was trying to create a unique atmosphere in this facility, in this North End Zone. And how are you going to be able to do it? One result is we’re going to look at some field-level suites, which are going to be exceptional. Some premium boxes like we have in the (KFC) Yum! Center. Some club seats. We’re going to do a lot of those things that won’t impact this facility A lot of the stuff that you’ll see that is going to happen here is really going to be a lot of our players’ needs and our coaches here.”

Q: Bobby you’ve played in lot of stadiums that are filled in before. Is there a different dynamic in terms of the homecourt advantage sound-wise?

BOBBY PETRINO: “Well, we have a great homecourt advantage. I think that is one of the things that is awesome about playing here. When it’s third down and our defense is out on the field, it’s hard for them to get the ball snapped. So you’ve got to take your hat off to our crowd and how well that we do with that. This is just going to make it that much more difficult. It’s going to be louder. It’s going to be more exciting. Can’t wait.

Q: Bobby, how much does this continue the buzz that you have out there right now nationally?

BOBBY PETRINO: Well, the movement into the ACC Conference and then to have some success last year, not the success that we wanted, not exactly where we want to be. But we have a good young team right now. I’m excited to get started and see exactly where we’re at. I think we continue our momentum in the recruiting.”

Q: Tom, how long has expanding this stadium been a focus for you?

TOM JURICH: I think we’ve been working on it for about three years. The challenge was that it was an end zone project and we wanted to do it great. This is really the home for all of our athletes and our coaches, right where we’re at. We wanted to make sure we didn’t just throw something up in a structure. So we looked at a lot of places. You’ve all seen the drawings. There’s probably a lot of Seattle in it, a little bit of the Dallas stadium in it. John Schnatter has been a very integral part of this. He took Kenny (Klein), Kenny’s wife, Teralynn and myself down to Dallas for a ball game. Jerry Jones showed us around. We got to see that entire facility. There’s going to be a lot of things incorporated because they do it right down there. There’s no question about it. Seattle, that stadium is spectacular also. We’ve kind of stolen from those two areas.

Q: Is there any money that has already been earmarked by the university to go into this project?

TOM JURICH: No, not by the university. But money we’ve raised, we’ve put aside for it.

Q: Put into context how much 10,000 regular seats, 1,000 club seats, maybe you can speak to this, how much in terms of revenue is it important to put into those 1,000 club seats?

MARK JURICH: We’re still working on it and trying to identify some key areas that are going to enhance the fan experience. Talking with our donors and talking with a lot of our fan base, they’ve identified those three areas as key points. As we work through this and start to drill down and identify the exact number of seats and suites based on the size, it’s something we’ll sit down together and discuss.

Q: Tom, I know you’re a strategic planner. As you look at this pie, as I said earlier, there’s basically a parking lot sitting nearby that used to have the silos. You’ve always looked way ahead.

TOM JURICH: That won’t be a parking lot. I can promise you that.

Q: I know you all aren’t architects, but I noticed in the renderings, it looked like Ohio State when they filled in their horseshoe, that the endzone peaks in the middle. I was wondering, is that an architectural thing or a sight-line issue?

TOM JURICH: It just was an architectural thing. And down at the soccer stadium, we have the same thing. We’re trying to work off of that.

Q: You  may not have set answers yet, but what happens with the Johnny Unitas statue and this museum?

TOM JURICH: Well, the Johnny Unitas statue is our primary goal right now.  We want to find the very best place that we can put it. We’re going to have to move it. There’s no question about it. But we want to put it in the best place we can. So we’re going to be open for suggestions. We’ve asked our architects. We’ve asked the people who’ve been working on the projects for some great ideas, too, to give us some options.

Q: Where will the team come out? Is there still a central tunnel? Will they come out from the side?

TOM JURICH: I think it will still be the same.

MARK JURICH: Tentatively we’ve planned on it having it be the exact same, to come out through the area. There’s going to be an intermediate area with the field level suites that the players and the coaches will be able to walk through.

TOM JURICH: It will be just like Dallas. You know how Dallas when they come out, they’re coming through a bar? It will be pretty much like that, coming through a bar, nightclub. We don’t drink here so we won’t do that. There will probably be some food there.

Q: Is there a timeline for construction after the funds are raised?

TOM JURICH: The best guess I’ve heard is about 18 months.

MARK JURICH: I anticipate a very similar construction schedule to when we had the original construction in 2010. 

TOM JURICH: There will be some down periods, just because of the football season. . . . We want to get this done. We want to get it done for recruiting, with players coming in here.

Q: Has some money been pledged already?

TOM JURICH: Yes there has been some. We don’t want to tell how much at this point.

Q: How will the fundraising be structured?

TOM JURICH: It’ll be between corporate and boosters and individuals, private businesses. Typical fundraising project.

Q: No government bonds?

TOM JURICH: Don’t know that yet. We haven’t been able to anticipate that yet.

Q: Tom, you said 66,000 seats would be perfect. What’s the calculus there?

TOM JURICH: There’s really no calculus. I just think that’s a great size for us.

Q: Could you have gone bigger?

TOM JURICH: Yeah we could, but then I think we take away from the experience. We want to have it very enjoyable for people to come here. It’s going to be fantastic with all the amenities that Mark’s having fun getting into this thing. It’ll be a fabulous experience for our fans.

Q: What about the challenge of filling a stadium of this size?

TOM JURICH: That’s Bobby’s challenge. We’ve got a great foundation here. We’ve got a great coaching staff with the things they’re doing right now. The conference is great. I think all the stars are aligned for this. We didn’t just wake up one day and say we’d like to expand. We really gave a lot of thought to this and Mark hired a firm out of Chicago that works with a lot of NFL teams and has given us our due diligence and gives us all the background and facts that we need to think about, gives us the pitfalls, the highs, the lows, things like that.

Q: Would you have had the confidence to go ahead and do this without being in the ACC?

TOM JURICH: I don’t think so. I think the ACC has been a great catalyst for everything we’re doing.

Q: How important has president Ramsey been in all this?

TOM JURICH: He’s been great. He’s been very supportive. You know, we try not to take to many bad ideas to him. We really try to think these things out. But he’s given us the autonomy to run the department the way we want to and it’s been great.

Q: What about the rapid growth of the fan base? Thirty years ago 20,000 was a record crowd.

TOM JURICH: That’s great. And that’s the excitement level that was created when we started really when we went to the Orange Bowl. When we took 40,000 down there, and I think it really took off. And I know this is a little bit off topic but I can’t say enough about what our fan base has just done as of yesterday, selling out those 31,000 tickets that we were allotted for the Auburn game. That to me will speak immeasurably for the next decades, many decades, about what our fan base does. I think you’ll see more of these type of games become available to us now, because our fan base sets us apart. I think it’s easy for Auburn to move their fans — you’ve been there Bobby, how far is it?

BOBBY PETRINO: An hour and 15 minutes.

TOM JURICH: It’s much more challenging for us and our fan base deserves an A triple-plus on this.

Q: Bobby was there a game last year where you ever thought, this crowd is great but what if this place were bigger?

BOBBY PETRINO: Well that opening game was a lot of fun. When we played Miami here and it was a black-out and the Card March, just the crowd and the atmosphere was an amazing first game back. Obviously the Kentucky game was a great crowd with a lot of excitement. I think that’s the thing that’s real exciting for me and for our fans is now, being in the ACC, the quality of opponent that we get to bring in each year to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, and the different venues that we get to travel to. I think that’s why you see so much excitement out there, going to Clemson last year, going to Notre Dame, everybody that went to Virginia had a great experience there. So it’s a lot of newness, even stadiums I’d never been in before.

Q: How important has the support of the community been in the growth of this program?

TOM JURICH: It’s been great. I think we’ve been able to grow together, and it’s been awesome to see how the community responded. We could never have done any of this without the community. Our businesses have stepped to the top, and our corporate sponsors. It’s great just to see the pride to continue to rise and it’s a great thing. We said when we went in the ACC, it was great for the athletic department, but I think it’s much better for the community.

Q: In that regard, Bobby, can you talk about in 24 hours getting new uniforms, selling out the season opener and announcing a stadium expansion?

BOBBY PETRINO: I’ve been focusing on practice. This is nice. It was an awesome announcement last night and to carry it on to today. It’s exciting for everybody, exciting for the young guys in our program, recruits that we have. I always tell the players who played here before that because of the way they went out and performed and represented us that they’re a big part of the expansion. They’re why people came up and donated the money. It’s an exciting time and we’re focused on coming out tonight and having a good scrimmage and getting ready for the opener a week from Saturday.

Q: Do you have an opening date for this expansion in mind? Are you looking for a marquee game?

TOM JURICH: I haven’t given any thought to that. I do know I’d like to do this before 2019. In a perfect world we’d like to open before that opener against Notre Dame (in 2019 at PJCS). But we just want to do this as quick as we can, first and foremost because of recruiting, because it would help Bobby so much.

Q: Do the architects have any misgivings about expanding beyond a certain point?

MARK JURICH: Size-wise?

Q: Yes.

MARK JURICH: One of the things from a structural standpoint that was a challenge was how far you can go up and how far you can go back without disturbing the Schnellenberger complex. That’s what we proposed to the architects as well as the consulting firm, and they came back with some very nice alternatives.

TOM JURICH: Just to add to that, our feasibility study, they look at our fan base. They look at the demographics and try to determine what suits you best. This number fit right in with what they had for us.

Q: Is one of the goals with the Unitas statue to make it more accessible? It seems to be something here that people want to see and take pictures with.

TOM JURICH: Yeah. That’s been one of the biggest complaints we’ve had is that people can’t get to the Unitas statue. That’s why a lot of the suggestions we’ve had have been to put it out front somewhere where people can touch it. That’s going to be one of our alternatives. But we want to go where popular demand wants it, because it’s such an important part of this place.

Q: Have you discussed a plaza area that it could be a part of?

TOM JURICH: It could be. Anything’s open.

Q: Are you likely to get an office here?

TOM JURICH: No. I’ll stay where I’m at.

Q: Who do you think the quarterback will be?

TOM JURICH: Stefan LeFors.

Q: Mark is the academic center on track right now?

MARK JURICH: It’s actually on pace, exactly where it’s expected to be, on target to open on July 1. . . . It won’t disturb our fans, hopefully, too much.

Q: How many different stadium designs did you see?

MARK JURICH: We went through four or five different renditions. The thing we wanted was something that complemented the current stadium very well, and as you’ve seen with a lot of our facilities, we wanted to have the wow factor in the stadium from the fan experience and from the student-athlete experience. We wanted you to be blow away, and I think we accomplished that in both aspects.

Q: What about the scoreboard?

MARK JURICH: That’s one of the things we’re looking at. In the current plans we’re looking at two scoreboards on the opposite sides of the pyramid.

Q: Is there a need for more parking?

MARK JURICH: There’s always a need for parking, especially for football, with our great tradition of tailgating. But I think we’re fortunate to have a lot of parking nearby. That’ll be part of the process that we’re looking through, how it will affect current spots and what we can gain in the future. . . . There will be some parking in this facility for suite holders.

Q: The capital plan called for a separate expenditure to updated faded seats. Is that part of this?

TOM JURICH: It’s not part of this, no. Hopefully the sun will get all of them and they’ll all turn pink at the same time. If we fill them, nobody sees it.

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