LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The University of Louisville has accelerated a $63 million expansion project for Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and the Howard Schnellenberger Complex, after the school's athletics fund met with unexpected fundraising success, according to a news release.

The school says fundraising was helped considerably by the Cardinals' successful 2016 football season, which included the school's highest finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference, a trip to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, a top-20 ranking and a Heisman Trophy winner.

Construction began on the new expansion in Nov. 2016, and was originally scheduled to be completed before the 2019 football season, but now the school believes it will be ready for opening in 2018.

The earlier date is due in large part to major gifts from Pepsi, the Kueber Family and a recent $5 million pledge by Norton Healthcare.

"We are extremely appreciative for Norton Healthcare's generous gift to allow this project to forge ahead," said U of L Vice President and Director of Athletics Tom Jurich, according to the news release. "They have always been a tremendous partner for our department, and this major gift certainly strengthens their commitment. The project is moving along steadily, and I'm very grateful for everyone who has contributed to the future of this program. Their gifts have enabled us to move up the completion date."

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