Louisville varsity stadium get new moniker


University of Louisville stadium naming rights Image: University of Louisville Athletics

The Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky (US) is no longer the Cardinal Stadium.

‘courier journal’ stated that Louisville’s football stadium will now be called the L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium, “or simply L&N Stadium”, as the University of Louisville Athletic Director Josh Heird informed.

The 65,000-capacity L&N Federal Credit Union Stadium, also known as the L&N Stadium and formerly known as the Cardinal Stadium and Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, is a football stadium located in Louisville, Kentucky, United States, on the Southern end of the campus of the University of Louisville.

The University of Louisville is a public research university in Louisville, Kentucky (US). It is part of the Kentucky State University system. When founded in 1798, it was the first City-owned public university in the United States and one of the first universities chartered West of the Allegheny Mountains.

Established in 1954, the Louisville, Kentucky (US)-based L&N Federal Credit Union was founded to serve the L&N Railroad workers in Louisville Kentucky (US). In 1982, the credit union converted to a Multi-Group Charter and went on to serve various businesses throughout Kentucky, Southern Indiana, and Tennessee. In 2004, the credit union changed to a Community Charter. Set up as a financial cooperative, credit union profits are given back to individuals by way of better interest rates, lower fees, convenience services, and resource programs.

‘courier journal’ further stated that a 20-year, $41.3 million naming rights deal between the university and the financial institution, which begins immediately and runs through 2042, was officially announced recently during a University of Louisville Board of Trustees meeting. The football stadium is the second University of Louisville athletic facility to be associated with the credit union. The Cardinals’ volleyball team plays at the L&N Federal Credit Union Arena.

Added Heird, “This is one of those stories that sometimes what you’re looking for is right under your nose. We had conversations with numerous companies locally, regionally and nationally before realizing L&N would be interested in this opportunity. Fortunately for us, when the conversation was had, they didn’t say no.”

As part of the new football stadium naming rights agreement, the University of Louisville will receive a $1.7 million payment during the 2023 fiscal year with a two percent increase for each contract year. The final payment in 2042 will be $2,476,579.

Heird further added, “When you look at the investment L&N is making, over $40 million, the impact that’s going to have on our Athletic Department, on our university – that’s significant.”

The L&N Federal Credit Union also recently donated $2.25 million to the Cardinal Athletic Fund, making it possible for the University of Louisville to open its Denny Crum Hall – which houses athletes from the university and other students – in September.

The L&N Stadium signage will soon be on display all over the football stadium, including its front entrance facing I-65 and the side of the building pointing toward the Floyd Street roundabout.

Partnering with a company for the stadium’s naming rights was one of Heird’s top priorities when he became University of Louisville’s Athletic Director in December 2021. The 60,800-seat stadium had been without a title sponsor since July 2018, when Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was shortened to ‘Cardinal Stadium’ two days after it was revealed Papa John’s (American pizza restaurant chain) founder John Schnatter used a racial slur during a company conference call a couple of months earlier.

Heird further informed, “We’ve been close a couple of times”, about process of finding a new title sponsor for the stadium.

Heird added, “We had been close and had some very serious conversations. I know (former Athletic Director Vince Tyra) went down that road a couple of times.”

The fallout from the termination of the university’s deal with Papa John’s, initially signed in 1996, resulted in the University of Louisville and Schnatter agreeing to a five-year, $9.5 million settlement in 2019. Schnatter was paid $1.5 million immediately and then $2 million in installments each of the next three years. Recently, Heird said he believes the final $2 million payment is due to Schnatter at the beginning of the next fiscal year.

As part of University of Louisville’s new $41 million agreement, the L&N Federal Credit Union will receive a football suite for the duration of the deal along with 40 lower bowl season tickets and six season tickets for seats in the club closest to the company’s suite, among other things.

In 1954, at the current site of the University of Louisville’s football stadium, the credit union was founded to serve the L&N Railroad workers in Louisville.

L&N President and head honcho Chris Brown said in a statement, “We are thrilled and honored to have this opportunity to partner with the University of Louisville. We are proud to have the L&N name on the stadium as a visible sign of our commitment to the Louisville community and the university.”

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