The University of Louisville officially opened Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium on Friday, Aug. 29 with a doubleheader featuring the women’s and men’s teams. The women beat Ole Miss 1-0 and the men knocked off #2 Maryland 1-0. The soccer stadium cost nearly $19 million dollars, and Dr. Lynn put up $5 million for the naming rights. The owner of Visionworks, formerly Dr. Bizer’s Vision World, has been a Cards supporter for years. The stadium seats 5,000 and includes amenities like chair-back seats and a digital ribbon board. With a few berms to accomodate more fans, opening night drew over 7,000.
KENT TAYLOR: You are used to this facility, but is it the nicest one you’ve built yet?
TOM JURICH: It is amazing. Absolutely amazing. We always like to throw out â€œWe’ve got the greatest this, the greatest that.â€ This is the greatest college soccer stadium, and I think, as Coach Lolla so eloquently put it, it’s going to really raise the bar for college soccer across the nation. You’ll see the impact that Louisville, Kentucky has on the nation.
TAYLOR : Do you get credit for the digital ribbon board?
JURICH: My son Mark and I went over and saw it at Kansas City. I’m sure this is the norm in pro soccer, but that was the first game that I had ever been to. A lot of these ideas came from Kansas City.
TAYLOR: What stands out to you about the design?
JURICH: The first thing is, I sat on the bench. These are your bench seats over here. It’d be great to be a reserve in college soccer. We’ve got two magical coaches, and they have worked so hard to help. There are a lot of people who deserve a lot of credit – wonderful donors who made it possible, none moreso than Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn. He admits it now, but he had never been to a soccer match. All he wanted to do was donate his money to help our student-athletes wherever we thought we needed it. So we showed him this, or my son Mark showed him this, and he said, â€œLet’s go.â€ That’s how it all started.
TAYLOR: This stadium just adds to the list; how big is this holiday weekend for the university?
DR. JAMES RAMSEY: Last week, we welcomed the best freshman class ever. Classes started this week. And what a great way to finish the first week of classes. Thereâ€™s a lot of energy and excitement all over campus.
TAYLOR: What does this facility mean for soccer at UofL?
KEN LOLLA: Not only for what it means for our program, what it means for soccer and specifically college soccer – it will raise the level and push soccer along, no question about it.
TAYLOR: How many college soccer stadiums have ribbon boards? Any?
LOLLA: No, no they don’t. That idea actually came from a Major League Soccer stadium. The professionals use it quite a bit, but there are none in college soccer. There are none that have a roof like this. There are none that have so many seat backs. There are none that have a scoreboard like this. We’re setting the precedent on a lot of different levels.
TAYLOR: The goal of this program has been a National Championship for a few years now. How does the stadium help you achieve that?
LOLLA: Initially for the players we have here, it’s what inspires them daily – coming into a stadium like that and a facility where we live on a regular basis. All of that inspires them to simply be more and do more.
Also, recruiting-wise, there’s no question when kids come in here. The renderings were great, but when it’s built, when they come in here, to see what happens emotionally, it’s phenomenal. So it’s going to be a huge recruiting advantage as well.
TAYLOR: What was your reaction when you first saw the finished product? â€œWowâ€?
DR. MARK LYNN: That’s the best word I’ve heard yet, is just â€œWow!â€ We walked in it about three weeks ago and they were still putting the finishing touches on. Your mouth is open and you’re just going, â€œHoly cow!â€ It is amazing.
TAYLOR: Have you become a soccer fan through this process?
DR. LYNN: Actually, I have. I was at work during the World Cup, and normally I have the TV on in the background, just to have noise, and I caught myself – I had two big spreadsheets open, I’m on a deadline, trying to get stuff done, and I caught myself. It’s been like 40 minutes, and I’m watching the World Cup. I’m trying to figure out, â€œHow in the heck did they get that pass through there?â€, and all of a sudden I’m like, â€œWhat am I doing?â€ I’ve really turned into a soccer fan.
TAYLOR: It looks like you could field a soccer team with your grandchildren.
DR. LYNN: There are 11 of them.
Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune