LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Louisville plans a $55 million expansion that will make Cardinal Stadium the state's largest at 65,000 seats upon completion, the school announced Friday.
The stadium would include 10,000 additional seats in an enclosed north end zone and upgrades to the team's training center. Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich gave no indication when construction would begin other than saying "ASAP" after money is raised.
Louisville's expansion will be funded through sponsorships, donations, ticket sales and other sources. Jurich added that donations had been received but wouldn't disclose how much.
"We're not trying to make it in time for any game; we're not trying to meet any deadline," Jurich said in a news conference that included second-year Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino and Mark Jurich, the AD's son and the department's senior associate AD for development. "If we could hit the lottery tonight, we would start as soon those plans are bid on. ... We've got to raise the money for it."
The University of Kentucky's Commonwealth Stadium is currently the state's largest, seating around 61,000 after a $120 million renovation is completed this fall.
Construction on Papa John's Cardinal Stadium is expected to take 18 months.
Jurich has occasionally expressed his desire to enclose the 17-year-old stadium, which added 13,000 seats in 2010 in its last expansion five years ago. The Cardinals are 81-27 all-time there and will host Houston in their home opener on Sept. 12.
"We always said if we're going to enclose the end zone, we're going to do it first class," Jurich said. "We're not just going to throw up a bunch of bleachers."
Artist's renderings suggest the bigger stadium will have a cozier atmosphere.
Designs feature large video boards on either side of a new upper deck on the north end with seating sections extending toward a top center point. An additional 1,000 club seats and loge suites, which aren't part of the official capacity, will be added along with a lower bowl extending from the Howard Schnellenberger team building.
The team's training center will double in size to about 20,000 square feet with more meeting rooms, office space and a player lounge.
"Only thing I tried to add was getting another team meeting room and rooms for position (coaches) so that we can teach better," Petrino said.
The coach added that he hoped the enclosed end will provide a louder atmosphere for opponents.
"When it's third down and our defense is out on the field, it's hard for them to get the ball snapped," added the coach, whose team will enter the field through a new entrance below the lower deck. "This will make it much more difficult. It's going to be louder; it's going to be more exciting. I can't wait."
Construction has started outside the stadium's south end on an $18 million academic center scheduled for completion by fall 2016.