Old Cardinal Stadium is “not on the verge of collapse”—but the grandstand and storage areas under them needs to be fixed or be taken out of service.
That’s the verdict of a report released Wednesday on structural stability of the the 50-plus year-old stadium at the Kentucky State Fair & Exposition Center.
State fair board officials announced in April that patrons to the outdoor concerts for this year’s Kentucky State Fair would be seated only on the field. The grandstands had deteriorated to a point where they couldn’t be used safely.
Now—per the report’s recommendations— the outer perimeter of the grandstand has been roped off by 20 feet as a precaution against falling brick and concrete.
The fair board has moved offices and storage out of the grandstand building. During the fair, they’ll also set up 500 temporary stalls for the World’s Championship Horse Show to replace stalls that were under the grandstand.
Last month, fair board president Rip Rippetoe told WFPL that the grandstand is too costly to repair—to the point where saving the stadium isn’t even under consideration.
Louisville no longer needs the former home of the Louisville Cardinals football team and the Louisville Redbirds ( as the Bats were once known), he said.
“All the venues that we need in this demographic area to take care of those kinds of events exist without it, so it doesn’t seem practical for us to even go and look at the cost of what it make take to repair,” he said.
It won’t be used again and, at some point, will likely be taken down.
Last month, Rippetoe couldn’t say whether old Cardinal Stadium will still be around during the 2014 Kentucky State Fair.
Cardinal Stadium opened in the 1950s and hasn’t had a hearty renovation in decades. The Cardinals football team moved to the nearby Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in 1998 and minor league baseball moved downtown to Louisville Slugger Field in 2000.
But the stadium hasn’t had a regular tenant in years.
They’re not made to last so many years without being fixed up now and then, Rippetoe said.
“You’re not going to find many stadiums that are this old that are still in existence, unless they have gone through hundreds of millions of dollars of retrofit,” Rippetoe said.
The report also says the stadium’s roof can withstand winds as strong as 50 miles per hour. (Which, on the surface, doesn’t sound great.) But the fair board already evacuates people from outdoor structures in 35 mph winds, so it’s not so much an issue.
Here’s the report to the state fair board: