Options ready for Old Cardinal Stadium site as demolition nears

Funding for demolition of Old Cardinal Stadium finally in place

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Out with the old. In a few months time, the Old Cardinal Stadium at the state fairgrounds will be history.

The goal in the last few years has been to tear down the stadium, and finally that appears to be a reality as the money is there to take it down.

It’s been quite a wait. People may member some work began back in 2013, but the funding wasn’t there to finish the job.

Some demolition of the stadium began five years ago, but it was not finished.
Some demolition of the stadium began five years ago, but it was not finished. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

The Kentucky Agriculture Development Board approved Kentucky Venues to use up to $5 million for the demolition.

Dr. Mark Lynn, the Chair of the Kentucky State Fair Board, said the number is closer to $6 million, but they’ve moved some things around to help make it happen by the beginning of next year.

“It will be happening, it’s a matter of exactly when,” Lynn told WAVE 3 News. “We do have the finances put together.”

It was 2013 when Lynn took his seat as State Fair Board Chair and a small bit of demolition started and ended. But he explained, it’s not like you just set up a wrecking ball and it happens.

“What most people don’t understand, and why it’s taken so long, is that underneath Cardinal Stadium is the hub for all of our electrical and water for the entire campus at the Exposition Center, so we have to make plans to move all that in -- and around the times when we don’t have major events going on,” Lynn said.

The legislature allocated money in the 2018 budget that could be used. Plans were made and Lynn said they are now looking at the end of this year or the beginning of 2019 for the demolition to happen.

Another part of the problem? There are actually horse stables and stalls underneath Cardinal Stadium.

“When it was built years and years ago there was a lot of asbestos, so we have to be very, very careful how that comes down," Lynn said. "That’s why it’s costing so much.”

For Lynn -- a huge sports fan who loves the history of the Redbirds playing there in the early 1980s, to University of Louisville football until 1998 -- it will be a little sad to see it go, but he’s more excited about what’s yet to come.

“I was at the Brohm-Bush (Trinity vs Male) football game, I was right there. I go back always too, a lot of old memories and a lot of great times,” he remembered. "But with everything else you got to move forward. It’s good to remember the past, but you’ve got to push to the future.”

There was talk in the past of a hotel and other possibilities for the land. Lynn said there are plenty of exciting options, but he’s not allowed to talk about them just yet until plans are approved. He hopes that comes by the first quarter of next year.

“We’ve been working on this a long time. It’s finally coming to fruition for the first time," Lynn said. "I can actually sit here and I can really see the light at the end of the tunnel. Before, we had a lot of flickers going off and some starburst every now and then, but now it’s there.”

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