The University of Louisville came to Jack Porter with big dreams.

Cardinal Stadium had 18,000 square feet of underutilized club space stretching almost the full length of the football field. It had not been updated since the 1990s, and they were eager to give it a new look and new purpose.

Within two weeks of their first meeting and a tour of the space, Jack Porter produced a concept that the university used to land a partnership with Angel’s Envy, a major local distillery. With Angel’s Envy on board as the naming rights partner, Jack Porter embarked on fully developing the design of the space, teaming with Luckett + Farley and Buffalo Construction to carry the project across the goal line.

Brad Jones, Creative Director for Jack Porter, shares the behind-the-scenes story of how this incredible transformation into the Angel’s Envy Bourbon Club took place over the span of just 12 months. 

What was the University of Louisville hoping to do with this space?

They wanted a premier space for their donors that they’ve not had, and to celebrate the bourbon culture, the city of Louisville, and give a nod to horse racing, as well. They wanted to transform the space and elevate the experience. It was a space that was definitely underused. They wanted a space that could be used for a corporate event or even a wedding reception. Now they’re using it for those things and more. 


What were the biggest challenges on this project? 

They had a year, so we were on the clock. And from the moment of that first tour and our first meeting, we developed three possible concepts within a two-week window. Then it was a question of, could we do what we’ve shown?

We had to make sure that the space could support our vision. Could it be done at a time when the supply chain is crazy? Could we translate digital pixels into a tangible reality with construction and architecture pieces that have very long lead times? Not to mention we needed to get all of it permitted, as well. 

But the planets aligned and we managed to get it all delivered on time and on budget.


How did you come up with these concepts?

We try to envision the audience. Who is going to utilize this, and how are they going to utilize this? 

So, we broke it down: Here are the folks coming for game day and what it means to them. Here are the folks coming for a business seminar and how it functions for them. And here are folks that might be coming for a more formal occasion, like a wedding reception or a cocktail event. 

And by doing that, we had to rein in some of the tones of what we were doing. But we still wanted to push them in a bold direction because of the stark nature that existed before. It was so white, so devoid of high-level finishes. We were able to transform the feel of the space with the richness of some of the woods we chose, and the richness of the tile work. 

The two anchoring bars on either side also took into account the sponsorship partner in Angel’s Envy. And we used these massive staircases to showcase the bourbon barrels to really define the space.

Bourbon Club Seating

How do you balance the desires of the title sponsor with those of the university and the needs of the end user?

From the beginning we wanted to make sure that we represented Angel’s Envy well, especially through their product. 

We wanted that brand to subtly blend with the palette of Louisville, the textures, the tones, the colors, so that you don’t feel like you’re being slapped with a full-color ad that doesn’t match. That would take away from the experience of the user. Honestly, I think it would devalue the feel of the brand itself that is sponsoring the space. So, instead of seeing something like a billboard, it feels so integrated. 


How did the university and the public react to this new space?

It was out of this world. What we heard was it’s the best project that’s been done on campus. People could not believe it. And, candidly, the university  was able to see an immediate return on investment because they could raise suite prices by upgrading their food and beverage offerings. 

We provided a space that was beautiful and something that any Louisville fan would be excited for, but now the university can charge a little bit more for it. With the previous space, they were kind of at a plateau of what they could do. Now they can provide a premium experience. 


What kind of ROI have they had since opening?

With this new look, it’s like a premier destination in the city. It’s one of Louisville’s larger spaces and it’s really become a go-to space. People want to book it, so they’re seeing a multi-factor increase in event revenue and event participation. In fact, in just their first year, they saw an 8% increase in new season tickets. And with the new Angel’s Envy Bourbon Club they are projecting to be over 30% in new revenue.