Local News

The grandstands of Cardinal Stadium—the old one—have deteriorated to a point where repairs aren’t cost effective, the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center announced Friday.

Because of this, the free concerts for this year’s Kentucky State Fair will be moved entirely to the field.

“Without that repair, it just simply wouldn’t be in our best interest to have people in the grandstands in the future,” said Rip Rippetoe, president and chief executive of the Kentucky State Fair Board.

For this year’s state fair, chairs and bleachers will be placed on the field.

“We feel confident that this plan for the fair is safe and will best serve our concertgoers,” Rippetoe said.

The move shouldn’t effect capacity for the state fair concerts, Rippetoe said. Those concerts generally draw 5,000 to 8,000 people—and the field for old Cardinal Stadium should provide enough space for them. 

The grandstands seat 19,000.

An inspection of the 56-year-old stadium showed that portions of the grandstand would be too costly to renovate and stabilize. It would cost millions of dollars, Rippetoe said.

The study was done by K. Norman Berry Associates Architects PLLC, and Senler, Campbell and Associates Inc.

The fair board is also moving offices and storage out of structure, Rippetoe said.

Old Cardinal Stadium once was the home field for the Louisville Cardinals football team and the Louisville Redbirds—now the Bats—minor league baseball team. Since those teams departed for Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and Louisville Slugger Field, respectively, Old Cardinal Stadium has largely gone unused beyond the Kentucky State Fair concerts

So what’s next for old Cardinal Stadium? Rippetoe said he doesn’t know. The Kentucky State Fair Board may soon do a master plan study on the entire fairgrounds campus , and that study would provide more answers. In recent years, suggestions were that an amphitheater would be a good use of the space.

“It’s not there yet,” Rippetoe said of that possibility. “We don’t have any plans for anything.”

The free concerts, by the way, are:

Aug. 15 Vertical Horizon and Blind Melon

Aug. 16 En Vogue and Unlimited

Aug. 17 Chevelle

Aug. 18 Oak Ridge Boys and Jimmy Fortune

Aug. 19 Casting Crowns

Aug. 20 Clay Walker and Parmalee

Aug. 21 Jerrod Niemann, Thomas Rhett, Kelsey K

Aug. 22 Happy Together Tour with The Turtles, Chuck Negron, Gary Lewis, Gary Puckett and Mark Lindsay

Aug. 23 Montgomery Gentry

Aug. 24 Theory of a Deadman and Black Stone Cherry