By Justin Stephenson
Many have heard, seen or bore witness to the avian awesomeness of U of L’s own KFC YUM! Center. And while many a glorious touchdown has been scored at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium; there are many other large-scale projects for other sports in the works that will have even the most casual Cards fan chirping.
One example to consider is the expansion to Jim Patterson Baseball Stadium as well as the Doctor Mark and Cindy Lynn Soccer Stadium Project.
“Our athletic department’s most recent capital fundraising projects have benefited baseball, soccer and softball,” Phil Pilewski, the Assistant Athletic Director of The Cardinal Athletic Fund said. “The goal of this project all along was to provide a state-of-the art facility for both men’s and women’s soccer at the University of Louisville. Both the University leadership and Athletic Department strongly believe in the student-athlete experience and in giving student-athletes the tools to succeed.”
In the case of Jim Patterson Stadium, the same Cardinal credo applies.
“The facility was built and later expanded to provide a premier baseball facility in which our student-athletes can train and compete,” Pilewski said.
“The completion of this expansion at Jim Patterson Stadium will solidify our baseball program as one of the nation’s elite. Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program and it will have an immediate impact in strengthening our pursuit of the best talent around the country,” U of L baseball head coach Dan McDonnell said.
This project would be seemingly enough for any Division I school to solidify its contribution to less popular sports in the eyes of the public. But U of L is also expanding other sports venues across campus. In this pursuit of excellence for the student-athletic experience, U of L is building a brand-new $17.5 million soccer stadium as well.
The facility will add 5,300 seats to the continually-burgeoning soccer program, whose recent success on the field has translated to budget expansion for that program and for other, smaller Division I sports.
With the addition comes a 15,500-square-foot training facility, housing the coaches’ offices, identical locker rooms, a sports medicine rehab room. The stadium will seat 7,500. This will make U of L’s new soccer stadium more than five times larger than UK’s soccer complex, which is only about 3, 000 square feet and seats about 1,500.
So far though, only one side of the equation has been addressed. In student-athletics, the “student” aspect of the conversation is often not addressed. Although to The University of Louisville and The Cardinal Athletic Fund, the “student” is first and foremost. Just take the new, “Academic Center for Excellence” for example.
Beyond stadium expansions, student athletes are also receiving the top facilities in the country, with the new Academic Center for Excellence in the works.
According to cardinalathleticfund.com, this $14 million facility will house individual tutor rooms, learning labs and group study areas. It also serves as home of the athletic department’s academic services staff and community outreach programs. Pilewski said this new facility will help student athletes produce more success in the classroom.
“The athletic department has been fortunate to have the support of many generous donors who have financially contributed to these projects,” Pilewski said. “It is in the best-interests of The University leadership and Athletic Department, as well as myself, to provide student-athletes with the tools that they need to succeed. That is the most important part of any project that this department undertakes at this university.”