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 (NOTE for 2010: the park is closed..Louisville fans say it looks good for a new owner in 2011.), 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. Finally, the athletics website has their own take on a visitors guide.
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 2005
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 2010--artist rendition
Driving to the stadium is fairly easy. It is located just west of I-65 a few miles south of downtown. All sorts of great info about the stadium and various policies is here.
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 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 $8. 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 (and off the map below) 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).
New for 2010 more tailgate lots!: Churchill Park (not to be confused with Churchill Downs Parking). It is located at the end of Byrne Ave (2 blocks east of Floyd St. Trees line the park and lots of grassy fields. It costs $10 to park there and looks like a great spot to tailgate and is only about a 5 minute walk to the stadium. This could be a great area for visitors who arrive early. I have been told if the gate is locked...just drive around it and set up. A person will come by later and collect your money. Obviously you should have a group who can get along with Cardinal fans. Another parking option closeby is Churchill Park School located off Boxley Ave near Crittenden Drive. The cost is $10 but raucous tailgating is not encouraged here (you need to be more discreet with your adult beverages)...it is more laid back but offers a very short walk to the game. The school does bring in Porta-Potties and the money goes to the school. Finally the parking lot behind the Coit Cleaners at 2730 Crittenden Drive (across the street from the Cracker Barrel and just north of the Cardinal Hall of Fame Restaurant) is offered at $10 a car. The nice thing here is they have indoor bathrooms and if you bring a dish you can share food with others. They welcome decently behaved Visiting fans.
KEFC and Boy Scout Parking Lots (Good Bet For Visitors)--click to enlarge
Thanks to the 502 Crew for the map
Stadium Expansion Set to open for the 2010 season is an expansion to over 56,000 seats. It comes off the end of the Coach Kragthorpe era...most agreed after 2009 a change was needed. Charlie Strong was hired and Cardinal Nation is excited again.
Seating Map for 2010
The official university website has a Loge section seating viewer for you...click on the loge section you have tickets and you'll get a detailed seating chart.
Tickets are very hard to come by for Louisville Football about 3-7 years ago. The stadium was sold out with a waiting list. Capacity was about 42,000. Now with expansion to 56,000 it would've been a bad scene looking at 30,000 in a 56,000 seat stadium but Coach K was fired. You could get tickets for below face value in 2009. If the stadium isn't sold-out for 2010 you should still expect to find some bargains. A strong start will help re-energize the fan base.
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.
Where to find tickets? 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 Bronze 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.
A few tried and true techniques to get the best price buying: 1. Know what a legit ticket looks like 2. Buy from your own fan base first 3. The smaller the group the smaller the price--single tickets are cheapest 4. Prices usually peak 1-2 hours before kickoff--inside an hour the closer to game time the cheaper the ticket, right after kickoff they plummet to near nothing 5. A fan walking to the stadium in with a group of friends and still holding extra tickets to sell will usually dump them for a cheap price (they do not want to miss the game and often they are doing a favor for a buddy to sell them) usually you'll spot them holding a finger or two out to their side or over their head or saying selling one, etc... 6. If you have to deal with a professional scalper--NEVER give him what he asks, have a seating chart with you, check to make sure all tickets are really together and for that game, offer him lower and be prepared to walk away, after you turn and walk away more than half the time in my experience they'll give in and take your offer, if you can afford to wait...wait inside 20 minutes to kickoff as see the prices drop (assess the situation for the number of tickets available, how many you need before employing that strategy) 7. Don't be embarrassed to go back to a scalper to buy ticket(s) 10 minutes after you said no to his previous offer 8. Don't fall for their tactics to make you feel like you're ripping them off by "only offering $20 a ticket", etc...they love to play games with your self-image and ego.
The Tunnel (Thanks to snickerling)
If you need game day gear the official athletics website would be happy to sell you some. If you need some last minute tailgate supplies I would try the Kroger Super Market first. It is at 3165 South 2nd Street and their phone number is: (502) 368-6153. It is located just SW of the stadium. Another option is to check out one of the numerous Walmarts throughout Louisville.
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TAILGATEWIKI--Total Tailgating Resource
Tailgatewiki.com is designed loosely on the wikipedia concept that anyone with internet access is considered an expert in the field and can contribute their personal knowledge in an online arena. Wikipedia covers all areas whereas Tailgate Wiki focuses on tailgating and improving the game day atmosphere. Because many fans
follow their team when they play on the road, Tailgate Wiki will serve as a resource for those fans to understand what to expect when they get there. Kind of like having a friend in every city, at every stadium, giving you the inside scoop on the best places to park, tailgating policies and much more. This is all user generated content and the goal is to benefit the entire tailgating community.
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 (Downtown or the Airport Area):
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. To find them try using this Louisville website offers a nice search function to find all the hotels in the downtown area or any other area in the metro.
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 lifestyle 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)
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 (specialty 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 Wings...be advised you need to call three hours ahead. Mark's Feed Store also has a great reputation. Jucy's (pronounced juicy) Smokehouse Bar-B-Q looks interesting and also has a great reputation. For great pizza try Impellizzeri's Pizza, it come highly recommended.
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 sections for places closest to Papa John. Bardstown and Frankforts areas are other great choices.
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)(recommendcalling first as their main website was down), and Proof on Main.
East Downtown: 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:
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. If you want to spend a day cruising several check out the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.
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 #7 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. Another muni in Louisville is Seneca Park. Seneca Golf Course has been rated the sixth toughest course in Kentucky and voted "Best of Louisville" for several years running as well as Golf Digest "08-09 Best Places to Play". It is a steal at around $13-15 a round.
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 Scout.com, Rivals.com or its site publishers, administrators and/or moderators.
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