CRAWFORD | Louisville moves up opening of expanded Papa John's C - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Louisville moves up opening of expanded Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

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A rendering showing the expanded stadium. A rendering showing the expanded stadium.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Capitalizing on the enthusiasm surrounding its No. 7-ranked football program, and on overwhelming fundraising support, the University of Louisville announced on Wednesday that the timetable for its planned expansion of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium has been moved up.

Senior associate athletic director Mark Jurich said that the $55 million project, which will add 10,000 chairback seats and expand the football facility by an additional 100,000 square feet, will begin right after the end of this season and should be completed by the opening game of the 2018 season, currently scheduled to be on Sept. 8 against Indiana State.

All 12 of the field level suites and premium boxes in the new end zone structure have been sold. Athletic department officials are still selling other seats in the end zone, including 1,000 club seats and 70 premium boxes. Jurich also announced Wednesday that an additional 30,000 square feet will be added to the planned Pepsi Club concourse in the end-zone structure. The premium boxes carry an initial donation of $40,000 with an annual donation of $4,000. Each club seat has an initial contribution of $8,000 and an annual donation of $500.

"Once this expansion is complete, it will be one of the top facilities throughout the country," Jurich said. "Our job as administrators is to provide Coach (Bobby) Petrino with the resources he needs to be able to recruit and to have a great program."

Petrino and his staff will have to relocate from their offices for a time while the expansion is under way, but Jurich said Petrino has been open to doing anything he could do to move the project along.

"Coach has been great and said , and understanding that the conditions will not be ideal, but that the end goal is going to be exceptional," Jurich said.

Petrino said the expansion underscores the commitment of Tom Jurich and the university to the football program.

"This is exciting, to get it started early," Petrino said. ". . . It's exciting to see the support we have from our fan base and our boosters, and the belief that they have in our program."

The Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex, which currently sits in the north end zone, will undergo a major expansion and facelift. The team's weight room and conditioning center will double in size, creating a total of 20,000 square feet of work space for training, condition and therapeutic support. Petrino said it's less about the amenities than improving the training facilities and updating the building for the needs the program has now, especially in the area of strength and training and meeting rooms.

"It'll truly give our coaches an opportunity to do a better job of teaching," Petrino said. ". . . It's really not about the waterfalls and barbershops. . . . It's an unbelievable deal. There is going to be a time where we have to be out of the building. Where we're going to go yet, I don't know. But we'll go wherever we have to go, to get this done."

Mark Jurich said no progress has been made on a new site for the Johnny Unitas statue, but reiterated that it would be put in a visible and accessible place for fans.

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Originally completed in 1998, Papa John's Cardinal Stadium opened with a capacity of 42,000 and was expanded in 2010 to its present capacity of 55,000.

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