Tourism officials seeking $30 million to demolish and replace ol - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Tourism officials seeking $30 million to demolish and replace old Cardinal Stadium

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Unstable, unsightly and unsafe were words used Monday to describe the old Cardinal Stadium at the Kentucky Fair & Expo Center.

There’s a new effort to finally tear down and replace the facility at a cost of $30 million.

The stadium is 60 years old, and its glory days of college and high school football and minor league baseball are long past. In fact, it was declared unsafe in 2013.

The turf field has been used for small concerts, but the seating area is off-limits, and most of the space is unusable even for storage.

“It looks unstable. It's unsightly,” said Anthony Leachman, the interim CEO of the Kentucky State Fair Board.

He and other Louisville tourism officials went to state lawmakers in Frankfort to make their case for the cash. They say the stadium is not only unsafe and a waste of taxpayer dollars, but it's an eyesore.

“It's very important that you present yourself in the best light that you can. From (I-65), which is a very well-traveled interstate, you see Cardinal Stadium from there,” Leachman said.

It would cost more than $3 million to demolish the old stadium, and some $30 million to build a new multi-purpose venue designed to attract more agri-business and youth sports, plus added storage.

With the renovation of the downtown convention center underway, tourism officials say lawmakers should now give attention to the Expo Center.

“We need to invest the dollars in that facility so it can remain competitive with (Indianapolis), Dallas, Atlanta. At this point, it's not remaining competitive,” said Karen Williams, CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Williams says the new facility would soon pay for itself, adding to the millions of dollars Louisville tourism already generates for the state treasury.

Representative Jeff Donohue of Louisville says he's sold. It's a matter of convincing his fellow lawmakers and the governor.

“If we don't do it now, what's it going to cost us, in the future? What is the potential lost revenue? What is going to be the expense for construction in the future?” Donohue said.

Lawmakers will not consider a new budget until 2018. Meantime, Donahue suggests starting to raise money by selling seats to those who may want to own a piece of Louisville sports history.

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Crew begins demolishing old Cardinal Stadium seat-by-seat

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