Old Cardinal Stadium demo to take 3 to 4 months

Demolition of old Cardinal Stadium to take 3 to 4 months

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - From the only time Thunder Over Louisville was held there, to a presidential visit, and one of the greatest high school football games ever -- memories of Old Cardinal Stadium are being shared before it all comes down.

From Facebook to the conference room, people are talking about the iconic Louisville venue that has certainly seen better days.

An inspection back in 2013 uncovered mold, unsupported seating and water damage in what began as Fairgrounds Stadium, opening in the fall of 1956 for an NFL exhibition between the Baltimore Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Last year, around $6 million was allocated for demolition work.

An official announcement about the demolition Thursday was postponed, but Kentucky State Fair Board leaders told WAVE 3 News some work has already started, and it will take three to four months to complete.

The board has discussed several possibilities for the site, and while folks realize it’s time for it to go, the demolition brings some sadness.

“There isn’t a time that we drive by there, that I don’t see that old building and get goosebumps,” Trinity Football Coach Bob Beatty said.

Beatty cherishes a freezing day in 2002, as his Rocks fought and won one of the greatest high school football games ever played. A back and forth dramatic track meet, Trinity and Brian Brohm beating Male and Michael Bush 59 to 56.

“It took me a month to thaw out, and I went through about four bottles of Ibuprofen because I had a headache for about a month after that game,” Beatty laughed.

A good state championship headache that is.

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Male Coach Bob Redman also will never forget that historic game, telling WAVE 3 News he also remembers his time as an assistant with Louisville Football Coach Lee Corso, when the Cards played there. He said watching his son Chris play there are some of his favorite memories.

Baseball also called Cardinal Stadium home. In 1982, the Louisville Redbirds moved in.

As the Louisville Bats celebrate 20 years downtown, Senior Vice President Greg Galiette can’t believe the place he went as a kid to see Louisville Colonel Baseball games, and where he spent 17 years with the Redbirds, is coming down.

President George H.W. Bush visited Cardinal Stadium.
President George H.W. Bush visited Cardinal Stadium. (WAVE 3 News Archives)

He was there in 1992, when President George H.W. Bush threw out the first pitch.

Galiette watched amazing St. Louis Cardinal players evolve. The Redbirds shattered attendance records one year with one million fans.

“We actually outdrew five major league baseball teams in 1983,” Galiette said. “We had a few crowds that were 30,000 people. It was just a lot of fun.”

Galiette was also the PA announcer the only time Thunder Over Louisville was held there. With the interstate nearby, it didn’t go so well.

“So they said, let’s move it downtown,” Galiette smiled.

There are great concert memories from the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels Tour in 1989, Farm Aid in 1995 and N' Sync in 2001.

And for one popular local basketball coach attending a UofL football game in 1980, the stadium was romantic... well, sort of.

“And I just said, why don’t we get married and she said yeah that’s fine,” laughed Bellarmine Men’s Basketball Coach Scott Davenport of his proposal to wife Sharon.

For the couple and a lot of other folks like them, the treasured memories at Old Cardinal Stadium were never about the physical stadium.

“It’s because the people were so great,” Davenport said.

Starting Monday, people can buy the stadium seats on govdeals.com.

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