Target Field 'indefinitely suspends' sale of Papa John's pizza

John Schnatter's likeness is on Papa John's pizza boxes

Schnatter stepped down as CEO a year ago after blaming slowing sales growth on the outcry surrounding football players kneeling during the national anthem. Schnatter released a statement Wednesday apologizing, which said in part, "Regardless of the context, I apologize".

When the news of the call broke this week, shares in the pizza chain plummeted by 5.9 per cent, wiping $96.2million off its market value, and Schnatter announced he would resign as chairman.

Schnatter then resigned as chairman of the company and from his seat on the University of Louisville's governing board.

The naming rights deal for the football stadium is unique, because the school's deal is with Schnatter, not the Papa John's brand.

In addition to appearing in TV ads, Schnatter's image has been on packaging and at the center of a logo that usually was all over the website of the Louisville, Kentucky-based company.

The Associated Press first reported the news and a Papa John's spokesperson confirmed it to CNNMoney.

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Keith Hollingsworth, a professor at Morehouse College's business department, said keeping Schnatter on marketing would be a signal to people that the company does not have a problem with his comments, or that it didn't think they were a big deal.

A person inside the company with knowledge of the decision said the decision to remove Schnatter as the marketing face of Papa John's was made by top executives and the details and exact timing are still being worked out. Instead, further waded further into controversy after it was revealed that, during the call, he claimed "Colonel Sanders called blacks n--s" but didn't face the same backlash that he had. The Kansas City Royals also stepped away from Papa John's, as did the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays.

Papa John's Cardinal Stadium will now be called simply Cardinal Stadium in the wake of a scandal involving the founder of the pizza chain whose company name has been attached to the stadium for years. He apologized to her, adding that he didn't want to be a "distraction", she said.

Major League Baseball also suspended its "Papa Slam" promotion with the company - which provided fans a 40 percent discount on online orders the day after a grand slam was hit during a major league game - Yahoo Sports reported on Wednesday. Schnatter subsequently issued a statement acknowledging the use of "inappropriate and hurtful" language.

Papa John's International Inc., which began operations in 1984, has more than 5,200 locations globally. Their statement condemned Schnatter, but noted that the Astros "are proud of our 10-year partnership with Houston Pizza Venture, a local Houston business and owner of the local franchisees".

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