U of L To Change Name Of 'Papa John's Cardinal Stadium'
The name of “Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium” will be changed to “Cardinal Stadium.”
The announcement was made Friday by U of L President Neeli Bendapudi. It comes two days after Forbes magazine reported John Schnatter, the founder of pizza company Papa John’s, used the N-word in a conference call with a public relations firm.
Schnatter said the report was accurate, and apologized for his remarks. But by Thursday, Schnatter had resigned from both the University of Louisville Board of Trustees and as chairman of the board of Papa John’s.
Schnatter also stepped down as CEO of Papa John’s earlier this year after drawing fire for criticizing the National Football League’s handling of protests by some players during the National Anthem.
Bendapudi said the university would not be looking for another sponsor at this time.
Bendapudi also announced that Schnatter’s name would be removed from the university’s Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise. That center was funded through a $4.64 million gift from Schnatter’s family foundation in 2015, along with additional money from the Charles Koch Foundation.
Hours before Bendapudi’s announcement, Kentucky’s senior senator came out in favor of changing the stadium’s name. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell — an avid U of L football fan — said if it were up to him, he’d change the name of the stadium, but said the decision is up to school leadership.
“I don’t like it. If it were up to me, I’d change it tomorrow,” McConnell said during a press conference on Friday.
“I have a lot of confidence in the new [U of L] president, I don’t know what kind of contractual arrangements there were. But I’m sure she’s going to handle it very well.”
Schnatter controls the naming rights to the stadium through an agreement made with U of L more than 20 years ago, according to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.
The totality of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium’s name is contained in two agreements: the first, naming rights assigned to John Schnatter for his tax-deductible donations. The second was a sponsorship agreement with Papa John’s International.
The agreements gave Papa John’s perks and vendor guarantees while allowing Schnatter the opportunity to change the name if he chose, though he would have had to bear the cost of the change and new signage.
Ryland Barton, Amina Elahi and Kate Howard contributed to this story.
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