Saturday, June 27, 2009

Louisville Tailgate and Visitors Guide '09

Louisville Skyline Click to enlarge

This is one of a series of tailgating guides for Big East football schools written by Syracuse fan and tailgate aficionado TexanMark. If you have any feedback or additional information you think belongs in this guide, please add a comment below or drop an email message to Mark by clicking here.

First Things First: GETTING THERE
Louisville is the most western city in the Big East (among Football schools). Airline travel though is fairly easy. The airport is very close to the stadium. In fact some of the motels you might stay at also serve the airport. Check Southwest Airlines first. A few more discount airlines have recently been added.
Driving to Louisville is a bit more problematic. Realistically only Cincinnati (1 3/4 hrs), Pittsburgh and West Virginia (both about 6-7 hours) are drivable over most weekends. All the other schools are at least 12 hours but are doable especially if you have three or four full days for a mini-vacation. Note: Amtrak doesn't run through Louisville.
It looks like a fun place to visit with Churchill Downs horse racing (live racing in November), a Six Flags amusement park, the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center (KFEC) and an entertainment district nearby called 4th Street Live. Of course, you can also take tours of many local distilleries. Baseball fans might want to check out the Louisville Slugger Museum. Boxing fans should check out the Muhammed Ali Center. Military Buffs and Gold Lovers should set aside time to see Ft. Knox about 45 mins south. History and Theater Lovers should check out Frazier Arms History Museum and Actors Theatre.

Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day

The stadium is located a short walk south of the main campus. The main campus (Belknap) can be viewed via interactive link. Another nice link for an overview of a lot of info important to visitors. The proximity of these places and downtown Louisville gave birth to the Louisville Sports Corridor.
Click on the video of proposed “Louisville Sports Corridor” for an overview of where Louisville wants to go.
Driving to the stadium is fairly easy. It is located just west of I-65 a few miles south of downtown.

Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

Parking/Game Day Tailgating/Ticket Buying

The official website gives you basic driving instructions from coming from all Cardinal Directions (pun intended). Like most stadiums the closest in spots are reserved for season pass holders and “high rollers”. The stadium’s official website says: “On most game days, one of the best options is to park at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center (KFEC). To avoid traffic to the prepaid lots, those parking at the KFEC should access Gate 1 of the fairgrounds off the Watterson Expressway (I-264). Follow Ring Road (Champion's Way) to the right and park in the lots north of old Cardinal Stadium, then walk across Crittenden Drive at the traffic light and down Central Avenue to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Please avoid jaywalking across Crittenden Drive. Parking at the KFEC is $6. There is also substantial surface parking west of the stadium across the railroad tracks between Churchill Downs and PJCS.” Tailgating is allowed in all parking lots except parking garages. Most lots open five hours before kickoff but locals have told me KEFC opens up at 6 AM. KFEC is huge and allows you to really spread out as there are no assigned spots. Also another option to beat the traffic into KFEC is to enter through Gate 6 off the Preston Highway. The best spot for RV’ers is to park at the (KFEC) Fairgrounds. Current cost was stated at $50 with full hook ups ($30 for primitive-no hook up) at the link. This looks like the best RV situation for any place in the Big East. If you want to park on the main Belknap Campus forget about it unless you have a permit (car or RV). Another place to park is Churchill Downs when the horses aren't racing.
Another few places you can try is the Holy Name Catholic Church for tailgating. They apparently let you park and tailgate. It might be worth checking out if you want to avoid a lot of the traffic around the stadium. The website hosted by the 502 crew states:
There are also parking spaces available for $10 in the Boy Scout lots on Central Ave between Floyd and Crittenden Dr. You MUST approach these lots from Crittenden Dr. Boy Scout lots are open to the west of the stadium, at the corner of 4th and Central Ave. You MUST Approach these lots from the west side of the stadium (4th St / Taylor Blvd). Farther west (add off the map) are neighborhood parking and the Churchill Downs parking lots. Prices vary.

The Boy Scout lots usually open 8 hours before kickoff (or so we've been told).

KEFC and Boy Scout Parking Lots (Best Bet For Visitors)--click to enlarge
Thanks to the 502 Crew for the map

Ticket Buying
Tickets are very hard to come by for Louisville Football a couple seasons ago. The stadium was sold out with a waiting list. Capacity is about 42,000. There are plans to expand. NOTE for 2009: The current struggles of the team has freed up the ticket resale market. If mediocre play continues in 2009 you can expect to get tickets for below face value. You can get a look at the layout to find out where your seats are located. Another stadium view breaking out the special donor sections, etc...Much more info on the stadium is provided by the school...Best news for beer drinkers: the stadium sells beer and even mixed drinks until the middle of the 3rd quarter. Scalping is best done in the tailgate lots. The best spot is recommended by Louisville fan "snickerling".
The "tunnel" is the overpass of Central Avenue. Central Avenue serves as a natural divider between the Red Lot (big money donors) and the Green Lot (Most season ticket holders). The tunnel is due south of the stadium. It's about a 350 foot walk from the mouth of the tunnel to the nearest gate (Gate 1). Incidentally, that gate is the WORST for getting in. The crush of people trying to get in that gate is the largest... and the wait to enter is the longest. I'd recommend trying other gates for entry... even if they are farther from your actual seat.

I've never seen anyone hassled by law enforcement for attempting to sell tickets prior to the game. And yes... most persons looking to unload their tickets know to congregate at the "tunnel." An added advantage of having the bulk of "ticket scalpers" grouped together... competition drives the price down. If you don't like the price someone is selling theirs for, you can walk another two feet and find another person willing to sell their tickets. Granted, the growing success of the team is mirrored in the shrinking number of scalpers present each game.

Now a little disclaimer from the official stadium website:
Unauthorized Ticket Sales--Resale of tickets to a sporting event for more than the face value of the ticket is prohibited by law, as is the resale of any tickets to any event on PJCS property. The University of Louisville does not authorize selling individual or season tickets for more than face value. The U of L Athletic Department reserves the right to revoke the ticket privileges, including season ticket renewals, of an customer who scalps tickets. Please no reselling of tickets on PJCS grounds.

The Tunnel (Thanks to snickerling)


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TAILGATE HAVEN--Total Tailgating Resource

Tailgate Haven is your total resource for setting up and managing your football tailgate online. Do you think the tailgate is sometimes just as important as the game? The goal of Tailgate Haven is to make your life easier by organizing your tailgate group; thus eliminating countless emails, text messages and phone calls about the current weeks tailgate information. The concept is simple but pure genius. You easily register by choosing your favorite team and picking a creative name for your tailgate group. Now log in and instantly each of your teams games becomes its own webpage with your team colors. Next, invite your friends to join your tailgate group and the site comes to life. In addition to this tailgate manager, every team has its own tailgate profile. Do you travel to away games? This is where you can find the best information on where to park, find extra tickets, where to stay, eat, party and golf. Navigate the city easily as you travel to a stadium for the first time.

Louisville boasts nearly 17,000 rooms, which are a lot of rooms for a metro area the population of Louisville. It looks like you have two main options:
If you want to stay downtown, there are several downtown hotels to consider:
Hyatt Regency Louisville/320 W. Jefferson Street/Ph # 502-587-3434
Brown Hotel/335 W. Broadway/1-888-888-5252

The Opulent Seelbach Hilton Hotel

Galt House Hotel & Suites/4th Street at the River/Ph # 502-589-5200/Next door to the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Pedway connecting Kentucky International Convention Center and Galt House Hotel & Suites.
Marriott Hotel Downtown/280 West Jefferson Street/Ph # 502-617-5045
Seelbach Hilton/500 S. 4th Street/ Ph # 502-585-3200
Additionally, the Comfort Inn, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn and Ramada Inn also offer downtown properties.

If you want to stay near the Airport or Stadium: the University provides a page with close by accommodations.
Louisville fan “Maize” suggests trying some of these places for lodging; all of these recommendations are close to Freedom Hall/Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Remember the Airport is extremely close to Freedom Hall-(0.5 Miles) and just 1.5 to 2.0 Miles from Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. If you are flying in you might just decide to not a get a rental car and rely on courtesy shuttles, cabs or walking.

Here is a google map showing lots of motels along Phillips Ave on the south side of KFEC.
Country Inn and Suites Airport/Kentucky Fair & Expo Center Freedom Hall/2850 Crittenden Drive Ph # 502-753-5555
Courtyard by Marriott Airport/819 Phillips Lane Ph # 502--368-5678
Crown Plaza Hotel (nee: Executive West Hotel)/830 Phillips Lane Ph # 502-367-2251 Across the street from KFEC & Freedom Hall.
Hilton Garden Inn/1530 Crittenden Drive Ph # 502-637-2424
The Super 8 also has a property close to the stadium and one close to the airport. This link offers a neat inactive map centered on the Super 8 nearer to the stadium. You can find the other motels on the map.

There are several major malls in Louisville; most of them are located out in the suburbs. However, the Louisville Antique Mall is near Papa John and might keep your non football watching spouse happy for several hours. The Summit lifesytle center is the latest trend in retailing but it is about 35 mins from the stadium. UL fan "mielrisco" recommends
Bardstown Road or Frankfort Avenue in "The Highlands" (see below for more info) as having several unique boutiques and restaurants that would make for a much more entertaining visit. (than the Summit)

Close by
If you want the local college scene check out: Granville Inn/1601 S. 3rd Street It is just off campus and the oldest after game U of L Hangout known for great burgers and lots of coeds. The most well known sports bar and restaurant in Louisville is the Cardinal Hall of Fame Cafe. It is located about ¼ mile east of Papa John next to the Fairgrounds. Be sure to click on the link for the video at the official web site. Another close by restaurant is the Cracker Barrel located just north of the Cardinal HOF Cafe. The closest bar to Papa John is Harlow's (nee: Tailgaters) is located across the street on South FLoyd. Harlows has no website but they do have a myspace page. Another unique restaurant is Lynn's Paradise Cafe which is about a mile north of the stadium. The place looks neat and should be popular with young and old alike. About 15 mins southwest of Louisville along the Ohio River is Mike Linnig's. They serve up good, cheap eats (speciality is fish/seafood) in a fabulous outdoor setting by the Ohio River. If you want Barbecue check out Bootleg Bar-B-Q. The prices are reasonable and they are noted for their Hot n' Sticky advised you need to call three hours ahead. Mark's Feed Store also has a great reputation. Jucy's (prounounced juicy) Smokehouse Bar-B-Q looks interesting and also has a great reputation.

Mike Linnig's From the Street

Awesome restaurant reviews here. A good website for finding a place to eat is here: You should look in the Downtown and Airport/South sections for places closest to Papa John.
Downtown areas are best near 4th Street.
Three come recommended for originality: Makers Mark Bourbon House + Lounge , Red Star Tavern and Vincenzo's/150 S. 5th Street/Ph # 502-580-1350/Reservation Required. Of course, there are others like Hard Rock and TGIF.

Louisville fan, "CardinalZen" recommends these establishments:

Central Downtown: Bistro 301, Saffron's (Persian), and Proof on Main.

East Downtown: Park Place Restaurant and Browning's Brew Pub @ Slugger Field, Stevie Ray's Blues Bar, Primo, and BBC Tap Room

West Downtown: The Jazz Factory

South Downtown: Bluegrass Brewing Company and Cafe Kilimanjaro

The Highlands--Louisville's Cool Spot to Be. It is a three mile stretch along Baxter and Bardstown Road. If you have access to a vehicle: the 900 block of Baxter is a nice place to start.
Suggestions in the 900 block:
Wicks Pizza Parlor & Pub (Baxter) - decent bar - great pizza
O’Shea’s (Baxter) – Irish Pub
Molly Malone’s (Baxter) -Irish Pub pricier- nice outdoor area
Wet Willy (Baxter) nearly 100 beers on draft and a 6 foot long monitor lizard living underneath a reinforced glass floor.Flannigan's Gourmet Pizza + Ale house (Baxter) - smaller place - very very popular - great food and big beer selection

The 502 Crew tailgaters offer up some unique places here. The offer a few suggestions close to the stadium and few downtown.

Louisville fan "L-yes" suggests:
Ramsi's Cafe on the World is one of my favorite places to eat, it's offers a
wide variety of ethnic food. The Bristol Bar and Grill is right up
the street for more traditional american fare and across from Ramsi's is the
Avalon which is upscale contemporary American cuisine. The Avalon
has a great outdoor patio area with live jazz most weekend nights. There
are many locally owned restaurants like the ones I've mentioned up and down
Bardstown/Baxter. For pizza and a beer Wick's Pizza really can't be
beat, Bearno's is also pretty good. All are within walking distance of one
another. Another great area in the city proper is East Market
Street, there is a collection of restaurant/art galleries there with great upscale
food and nice bars like Artemisia Restaurant. If
you're in town on a Friday night and it's the first Friday of the month the
Market Street district is hopping in September and October.

Finally, the Frankfort Avenue area (just east of downtown) boasts a huge collection of independently owned restaurants in a vibrant, charming, friendly historic corridor.
Things to Do:

Distillery Tours:
Woodford Reserve (formerly Labrot & Graham Distillery)- 1 hour drive towards Lexington. Located in the beautiful horse country around Versailles! Maker's Mark: 1 1/4 hour drive. Very Good tour
Wild Turkey: Less than an hour southeast, easy to find.

Maker's Mark Still House
The Louisville Chamber of Commerce has a nice guide to give you more suggestions in Louisville.

Belle of Louisville Steamboat

There is a Harrah's property across the river to the west of Louisville. If offers all the typical casino amenities.


Louisville Fan and Native Chris Lindy's Suggested Courses:

City of Louisville:

Right in the heart of Louisville, your best courses are Charlie Vettiner, Indian Springs, and Quail Chase. Vettiner is part of LouisvilleCharlie Vettiner’s municipal parks, a challenging layout due to the fact that there are some wild holes on the course and a LOT of elevation changes. The tee shot on #9 is probably the toughest in the city. OB on the right and junk on the left. Trees line both sides of a very narrow fairway for what is an uphill tee shot. Hole #10 may actually be tougher than 9.

Indian Springs is a controversial choice and one that other Louisville golfers would possibly disagree with me about. It and Quail Chase are not city owned, but people complain about the residential developments overhanging the golf course at Indian Springs. I agree that the houses impede if you are wild off the tee, but really they are nothing more than a bad backdrop for an otherwise GREAT golf course. The par 3's there are among the best collection of any Louisville public (#6 & #11 are the best) and there is plenty to challenge you throughout the round.

Indian Springs Golf Club

Quail Chase is also a public course in town, but not connected with the city parks. There are 3 9-hole courses at the facility, which is well-kept if nothing else. I am not personally a big fan of the place because it is much more expensive than Vettiner and really doesn't offer anything those courses can't. The par-5 8th hole (East course) is a tricky one, where a lake guards the right side for the last half of the hole.

Greater Louisville Metro Area:

Outside of Louisville, I think there are more options and ones that honestly are better if you'd like to avoid the muni scene and get a little more for those extra dollars you will drop on non-city owned courses. Old Capital (Corydon, IN), Covered Bridge (Sellersburg, IN), Chariot Run--see below (Laconia, IN), Nevel Meade (Prospect, KY), My Old Kentucky Home--see below (Bardstown, KY), Weissinger Hills--see below (Shelbyville, KY), the new Champions Pointe--see below (Henryville, IN) and the soon-to-be-opened Heritage Hill (Shepherdsville, KY) are all very good to great tracks with a variety of challenges to them. I have also heard great things about Valley View, where Fuzzy Zoeller honed his game as a youngster growing up in Southern Indiana.

Valley View Golf Club

The most exciting of these is currently Heritage Hill, which was designed by former Nicklaus protégé Doug Beach and is schedule to open in August, 2007. The locals are already raving about this course if they have been fortunate enough to play and eagerly awaiting its public debut if they have not. From the photos on the course’s website, this could quickly become Louisville’s best area course.

If you're a gambler, Chariot Run may be the place for you to get in your 18 holes. It pushes the 45 minutes a little bit in that the course, owned by Caesars Indiana, is WAY past the casino itself. This is another course that I was not a huge fan of when I played it, but mostly because the greens were too hard and didn't receive shots well. It's a great layout, though, and would perhaps be right up there on my list with another chance at better conditions.

My Old Kentucky Home is the best local state parks course, also about a 45-minute drive from Louisville, but actually not even in the Top 5 of all state parks courses. The other great thing about Kentucky golf is what the state does with its parks. Trying to encourage people to get away from the big cities and put money into the smaller KY communities, the government has built and remodeled several parks courses into championship-quality layouts. My Old KY Home is not one of the Signature Series (the REALLY nice ones), but it's still a fun course that is well-kept and reasonably priced. Hole #16 might be the most difficult par 3 in the entire area.

Finally, Weissinger Hills in Shelbyville. This is another course that not many people know about since it is away from the city and not high on the day trip list for most people. Situated on an old horse farm, the course winds through several patches of trees, old fields, and a bit of water during the round. There isn't anything particularly spectacular about the course, but #10 might impress you and the conditions are good. For more information, you can always click the links for the courses that have websites or check out Golf Kentucky Links for their reviews. This is a nice site devoted to looking at ALL the KY courses as well as some of the more recognizable tracks just across the river.

Editor's Note: We thank Chris for his insights regarding golf in the Louisville area. Please note that he has an excellent web site devoted to University of Louisville athletics called Cardinal Empire. Please check it out.
I hope this helps. I'd like to thank Louisville fans Maize, Wilkie and Chris Wiley who helped with this guide. TexanMark

The opinions expressed in this guide are those of TexanMark. While every effort has been made to ensure all the information presented is accurate and current, it would be wise to verify things when possible. Please note that this guide is not endorsed by, or its site publishers, administrators and/or moderators.

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Anonymous said...

If coming to the Ville- must visit Frankfort Ave. area. Great independantly owned restaurants and bars and retail shops. Easy cab ride from downtown or airport area. Also, check out Captain's Quarters on River Road. Great setting overlooking the Ohio River with view to Indiana.

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