American Football Wiki
Cardinal Stadium
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium after expansion in 2010.jpeg
Location 2800 South Floyd Street
Louisville, KY 40209
Broke ground June 19, 1996[1]
Opened September 5, 1998[2]
Expanded 2010
Owner University of Louisville
Operator University of Louisville
Surface FieldTurf
Construction cost $135 million
($192 million in 2012 dollars)
Architect Rosser International
Luckett & Farley
General Contractor Huber, Hunt & Nichols[3]
Tenants Louisville Cardinals (NCAA) (1998–present)
Capacity 55,000

Cardinal Stadium is a football stadium located in Louisville, Kentucky, and serves as the home of the University of Louisville football program. Debuting in 1998, it is one of the last football stadiums in NCAA Division I-A (now Division I FBS) to open in the 20th century. The official seating capacity in the quasi-horseshoe shaped facility was 42,000 through the 2008 season. An expansion project that started after the 2008 season was completed in time for the 2010 season has brought the official capacity to 55,000. [4]

History and fundraising

Due to the Kentucky General Assembly being unable to provide any public funding, construction of the stadium began with private funds, which included the reclamation of the land upon which the South Louisville Rail Yard was situated. The soils of the 92 acre brownfield site contained 47 different contaminates of concern before the project began. The rail yard's shift horn was saved and installed in the stadium's north end zone scoreboard and is sounded whenever the Cardinals score.

The new parking at the stadium allowed the university to move some parking for commuting students there, allowing redevelopment of on-campus parking lots into various athletic facilities.

In 2000, Central Avenue was widened and extended from Taylor Boulevard to Crittenden Drive, a major redevelopment project. Because the road connected Churchill Downs, an entrance to the Kentucky Exposition Center (which is home to Freedom Hall) and the university's new baseball venue, Jim Patterson Stadium, all located within a mile of each other, the road has now been dubbed as "Louisville's Sports Corridor."

The stadium was named for "Old" Cardinal Stadium, which is located at the Kentucky Exposition Center, but with corporate naming rights providing its current distinction. Papa John's Pizza, founded by John Schnatter, a native of nearby Jeffersonville, Indiana, donated $5 million for the naming rights to the stadium.

The stadium was christened on September 5th, 1998; the Cardinals lost the opening game to the Kentucky Wildcats 68-34[5] but won all other home games that year.[6]

On July 13, 2018, the stadium was renamed by University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi. The name was changed from "Papa John's Cardinal Stadium" to "Cardinal Stadium". The change was a reaction to John Schnatter using a racial slur on a Papa John's conference call.[7]


  • Prior to the game, the Cardinals exit the Howard Schnellenberger Complex and each touch the Johnny Unitas Statue before running onto the field.
  • The Card March is 2 hours prior to kick-off. Players and coaches are greeted by fans and cheerleaders as the walk through the tunnel leading to the stadium. The University of Louisville Cardinal Marching Band routinely plays an array of fight songs to welcome the team into the stadium gates.
  • The Victory lap began in the old Cardinal Stadium at the end of the 1990 season. After each Win, Louisville players walk around the stadium and gives fans a high-five.
  • CARDS Chant, goes like this: C-A-R-D-S (letter by letter), C-A-R-D-S (2x fast), Go-Cards-Go!

Physical features

At the north end of the stadium is the Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex, which houses the football offices and the conditioning center for the football team. Also at the north end is a bronze statue of Johnny Unitas, NFL great and the most famous football alumnus of the university. As part of game day tradition, each Cardinal player touches the base of the statue before entering the field prior to kickoff. In 2006 the $10 million Trager Center, an indoor practice facility opened just north of the Schnellenberger Complex, providing a dry and warm area to allow undisrupted practices in Louisville's highly variable weather.

An interesting feature is the Brown and Williamson Club located at the rear of the stadium's press box. It contains several large ball rooms and is rented out for receptions to bring in additional revenue. It is also often used by the school to host prominent visiting speakers. The venue overlooks the school's new Jim Patterson Stadium and Jewish Hospital Sports Medicine complex, which was completed in 2005.

At the start of the 2006 football season, a new state-of-the-art high definition scoreboard was installed in the north end zone. It is three times as large as the previous scoreboard. A new red LED scoreboard was also installed in the south end zone, as was a lighted "University of Louisville" sign around the upper rim of the exterior of the east stands, which increases the stadium's visibility from Interstate 65.

Uses other than Louisville football

The stadium has hosted many events apart from U of L football, among them soccer matches, including fixtures for the US women's national soccer team; concerts; auto shows; and the annual DCI Louisville drum & bugle corps competition, hosting several corps from the midwest.

In high school football, it has hosted a local event known as the Ray Adams Charger Classic, plus various other games. Most notably, PJCS is the regular host of two major city rivalries—the Catholic rivalry between St. Xavier and Trinity, which regularly draws crowds in the 35,000 range; and the Male-Manual game, a public-school battle which is the longest running, continuously played high school football rivalry in America. It was also the annual site of the Kentucky state high school football championship games until the 2009 season, when the games were moved to Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.

PJCS has also seen use for large religious events. Evangelist Billy Graham held one of his crusades at the stadium.

Stadium expansion

In October 2006, an official rendering and details were released of what an expanded stadium would look like and cost. The ambitious original plan called for an additional 21,600 seats and 70 suites added via a new upper deck on the side opposite the main press box area, all for an estimated price tag of $63 million, which is almost identical to the cost to build the original stadium.

On August 27, 2007, John Schnatter donated $10 million in support of the expansion, and extended naming rights through 2040. The Kentucky General Assembly, the state legislature, provided the balance of funding for the project. The stadium is therefore about 46% state-funded in total.

On December 1, 2008, construction started on the east side of the stadium, and the expansion was finished in Fall 2010. The expansion was scaled down from the original plans with about 13,000 additional seats (1,725 of which are higher-priced club seats) and 33 suites instead of the originally planned 70. There is also a 100-yard-long luxury room called the PNC Club, which is similar to the west-side Brown & Williamson Club but has a glassed-in view of the field. There is also standing space for 2,500 people on the new Norton Healthcare Terrace located on the south end (closed end) of the horseshoe-shaped stadium. The expansion, which eventually cost $72 million, also included 20 new restrooms, two new 345' x 3' LED ribbon boards located on the facia of the east and west sides of the stadium, a new 60' x 20' LED video board on the south end of the stadium, matching in size the existing board on the north end, and a new 13 x 9 LED board facing outside the stadium to the south.

Attendance records

  1. 55,632 vs. Florida State, September 17, 2016[8]
  2. 55,588 vs. Clemson, September 16, 2017[9]
  3. 55,428 vs. Miami, September 1, 2014[10]
  4. 55,414 vs. Florida State, October 30, 2014[11]
  5. 55,396 vs. Clemson, September 17, 2015[12]
  6. 55,386 vs. Kentucky, September 2, 2012[13]
  7. 55,332 vs. Ohio, September 1, 2013[14]
  8. 55,327 vs. Kentucky, September 4, 2010[15]
  9. 55,218 vs. North Carolina State, October 22, 2016[16]
  10. 55,215 vs. Central Florida, October 18, 2013[17]
  11. 55,168 vs. Rutgers, October 10, 2013[18]
  12. 55,121 vs. Duke, October 14, 2016[19]
  13. 55,118 vs. Kentucky, November 29, 2014[20]
  14. 55,106 vs. Cincinnati, October 15, 2010[21]
  15. 54,075 vs. Kentucky, November 26, 2016[22]
  16. 53,647 vs. Eastern Kentucky, September 7, 2013[23]
  17. 53,334 vs. North Carolina, September 15, 2012[24]


  1. "Selling Souls for Stadiums", August 17, 1996. Retrieved on September 18, 2011. 
  4. Papa John's Cardinal Stadium Expansion. Cardinal Athletic Fund. Retrieved on 2010-01-16.
  5. 1998 Louisville Cardinals Historical Scores
  6. 1998 Louisville Cardinals Historical Scores
  7. Lourim, Jake. "U of L is pulling Papa John's off Cardinal Stadium after N-word scandal", The Courier-Journal, 13 July 2018. Retrieved on 13 July 2018. 
  8. Football Attendance.
  9. Clemson vs. Louisville – Box Score – September 16, 2017.
  10. Miami (FL) vs. Louisville – Box Score – September 1, 2014 – ESPN.
  11. Florida State vs. Louisville – Box Score – October 30, 2014 – ESPN.
  12. Clemson vs. Louisville – Box Score – September 17,2015 – ESPN.
  13. Kentucky vs. Louisville – Box Score – September 2, 2012 – ESPN.
  14. Ohio vs. Louisville – Box Score – September 1, 2013 – ESPN.
  15. Kentucky vs. Louisville – Box Score – September 4, 2010 – ESPN.
  16. NC state vs. Louisville – Box Score – October 21, 2016.
  17. UCF vs. Louisville – Box Score – October 18, 2013 – ESPN.
  18. Rutgers vs. Louisville – Box Score – October 10, 2013 – ESPN.
  19. Duke vs. Louisville – Box Score – October 14, 2016.
  20. 2014 Stats.
  21. Cincinnati vs. Louisville – Box Score – October 15, 2010 – ESPN.
  22. Kentucky vs. Louisville – Box Score – November 26, 2016.
  23. Eastern Kentucky vs. Louisville – Box Score – September 7, 2013 – ESPN.
  24. North Carolina vs. Louisville – Box Score – September 15, 2012 – ESPN.

External links

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