Tom Jurich discusses stadium expansion

With Cardinal football season tickets selling out at a record pace, the odds for increasing the seating capacity at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium have improved. University of Louisville Vice President and Director of Athletics Tom Jurich sat down with Inside The Ville on Wednesday and discussed the possibility of stadium expansion, as well as his vision for what could become a new look home for the gridirion Cards.

Throughout the months leading up to the 2005 college football season, the University of Louisville program has experienced a number of firsts, such as the school's highest-ever preseason ranking and a first place vote in the initial Associated Press poll. Another first, that has gone seemingly unnoticed, it the absence of numerous print, radio and television ads selling Cardinal football season tickets.

U of L, which recorded a school-best attendance average of 40,351 per game in 2004, sold out four of its five home games during last year's 11-1 run and with all season tickets for the 2005 home slate now sold out, a seat inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on gameday just became harder to find.

"I've never seen so much excitement," said Tom Jurich, U of L Director of Athletics. "I think it is at a fever pitch right now and rightfully so. This isn't only a great program in this state, but it's also a great program in this region. Really, it's just us and Ohio State that are ranked like we are in this area and that's pretty good company."

Jurich added that the presence of traditional BIG EAST Conference programs on the Cardinals home schedule this fall, such as Pittsburgh and Syracuse, will have a positive effect on the final attendance figures.

"As long as the fans continue to turn out we will look hard at expansion," he explained. "The one thing that everybody has been clamoring for is that they want better teams in our conference - they have that now. There's no more excuses."

While the rapid climb of the program has surprised many, it's something that the school's Vice President had planned for.


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"We did this by design," explained Jurich. "This is something that we planned on eight years ago when [Louisville] was 138th in the nation. It all started with John L. and I think he built a terrific foundation and Bobby has taken it up many notches."

As excitement for U of L football throughout the city, state and region has continued to grow, Jurich has continued to move forward with his vision for stadium expansion.

"Presently, we are in our third meeting with all the architects and soon the drawings will be done for a new expansion," he said.

"We would like to take it somewhere in the vicinity of 60,000 and I would like to add another 30 suites," he said of the project. "I'd like to do a platform on the south endzone, much like Tampa Bay's stadium (Raymond James Stadium) has, where the fans can walk back and forth. We'd have concessions available and the fans could hang out up there and watch the game. The one thing that I have seen that our stadium really needs the most is a way to get from one side to the other."

"I don't think I'd build another club on the other side, but we would have priority seating and I would want to make sure those people had access to the Brown and Williamson Club."

While he admits that the possibility of adding additional seats and features in Papa John's Cardinal Stadium has progressed, he adds that it won't happen unless it's visibly needed.

"I've been moving on this for about six months now, but I'm not going to do it until I see all those seats gone," he said. "I don't mean sold - they were all sold last year. I want to see people in their seats, coming in early and staying late - our kids deserve that."


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