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Will lower ticket prices help sell out Kroger Field Saturday night? Probably not

Kentucky had a lot of empty seats at last week’s game against Murray. (Larry Vaught/Verizon Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky is unbeaten, has a win finally over Florida and will be hosting unbeaten and 14th-ranked Mississippi State Saturday night.

So why do about 10,000 tickets apparently remain unsold for Saturday night’s game?

That set off quite a discussion on my Twitter timeline Monday.

“Shouldn’t be hard to sell 60k seats for a top 15 team at home. Ticket prices are no higher than anywhere else,” posted @TheRealJP2323.

True about ticket prices. Not true about not being hard any more to sell tickets.

“It’s nuts how much a trip to a game costs now. I hope the luxury boxes are paying out well,” Evan Orwell posted. “I checked tickets and decided I can eat better and get a better view on an awesome TV at home without all the game day hassle. If @UKFootball wants a full stadium they should stop pricing out the fans.”

“Our family of six was planning to go to game this Saturday night. Just no way that we are paying $85 a ticket. It’s much better to lower the ticket prices and sell out the stadium,” Donnie McFarland tweeted.

“Tickets are just too high. Going myself, but after fees, $170 for two very average seats. Just too much money. Otherwise I’d also go to the South Carolina game,” @WildcatRecruits said.

“They are too high. And they (UK athletics) would rather have empty seats than lower prices for a sellout,” Frank Janky posted.

“Stop jacking up the ticket prices …. I am simply not dropping $200+ for this game,” @UKcats75 posted

“Nosebleeds are $48 and most lowers are near 100 each after fees. I’m a season ticker holder, but the average fan will not pay those prices. Embarrassing by UK,” Eric Dixon wrote on Twitter.

“Just doesn’t make sense. Seems 10-15 bucks a ticket you make more than the seat just being empty.. You would assume that cheap ticket will buy an overpriced burger or drink,” Justin Whitmer posted.

Apparently Kentucky was kind of listening to fans. First, teachers can buy tickets for $26 for Saturday night’s game by contacting UK. Second, thanks to Keeneland, 200-level sideline tickets went on sale for $42 late Monday.

“Cut the price in half and sell the place out. Instead they’ll double the price and eat 5000+ tickets. One way you build a program, the other way you make it tough to win in your home stadium, thus making it harder to succeed. Both ways you make the same amount of money,” Guy on the Corner (@GOTCTickets) posted before Keeneland’s offer helped lower some ticket prices.

“People are not going to fill the stadium with prices as so high, not when you can watch on HDTV. Why charge $48 and up per seat when you can charge a bit less and have a better atmosphere to impress recruits?” @kyfan210 said.

One season ticket holder was glad to see UK lower some ticket prices.

“I’m a season tix holder and nothing wrong with lowering these tickets down to 15 bucks to let the average fan take their family. The stubbornness is not working. Stands will stay empty until change,” J.K. Coleman posted on Twitter.

Times are just changing. Season ticket holders and those who attend UK games are terrific fans willing to spend their money to be in the stadium to back the Cats. But there are fans just as passionate and just as loyal who may now prefer just to stay home, watch on the big screen TV, not spend money for tickets, parking and concessions, and still cheer for the Cats.

This isn’t just a Kentucky problem. It’s a college and pro sports problem that I think will only get worse. Many fans have to watch how they spend their dollars. I get that.

I know athletics departments need money to do all the things to sustain programs and attract recruits. I get that.

But I think empty seats — even at football games like UK-Mississippi State or basketball games even in Rupp Arena — are going to be the norm going forward.

8 comments

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  1. UK completely misread the situation with their fans. This is a place where people don’t like being treated like second class citizens. Luxury suites and club seats may work in NYC but this ain’t NYC. People know they are being treated badly. You move them to worse locations and charge them more. I’m surprised they get as many fans as they do. And that really stinks.

    UK fans have always supported the team through thin and thin (it’s been a while since they have seen thick). Commonwealth has a long history of good crowds no matter the record of the team. Only during the Joker years was that not the case and the team just wasn’t performing at anywhere near a Power 5 level at the time.

    I would love to see the stadium full again. For it to happen this season when things are looking up is the real tragedy. How is it going to look to recruits to see so many empty seats?

    The administration made a HUGE mistake changing things like they did. I think they could have raised prices and brought in more money. I think the big problem was insulting the fans by saving so many good seats for people who really don’t care about the team. UK fans are known to be as dedicated as they come. It took a massive misread of the public to mess up this bad. I’ve been saying the renovations to Rupp will cause the same hard feelings since I heard they intended to chop it up and sell it off to the uber rich. What happened to the team that cared about the fans who could never hope to get a ticket but still followed the team like a religion? I remember the shout outs to the shut ins and other less fortunate types that loved the team. Now it’s like UK has said the average fan doesn’t matter. They only want rich fans. The proof is there for all to see. They messed up bad.

  2. I say football has probably produced more revenue at UK and spends less than basketball, and always has. This current ordeal is hurting the old UK budget to see all these empty seats in a stadium that was always packed in the past to watch generally losing football at UK. That was back in the days when the capacity at CWS neared 70,000. UK has to make a bunch of money to pay all these coaches salaries, and the AD, and send basketball teams to the Bahamas, and Italy, and no telling where next, all expenses paid.

    Something ain’t right at UK sports fans. Hey Mitch if your bean counters have not sold those tickets by late Friday, how about giving the “poor” football fan a break. The guy who can only travel to a couple games with his boy to see their beloved CATS play. Put tickets on sale 3 to 4 hours before game time Sat for $15 a seat, first come first serve. The stadium would be packed out for Mississippi State. It would sure help the football team too, and stop Stoops from whining. The lower prices proposed are still too high for many who love UK football. Like I have said before, $15 is still better than receiving nothing for an empty seat.

    1. Let me add Kroger Field would be rocking too with that bunch in there.

  3. I for one would make the trip. and bring my grandson to his 1st UK game

  4. I agree prices are too high at all events. Not just the tickets either. Food and drinks is too high too. If you want the average fan there, lower the prices. It looks like you don’t want a stadium full.

  5. Empty seats also impacts Kroger’s return on investment.
    They want to see the stadium as full as can be. They have signage and kiosks and food sales in there.
    OK, we already have the Kroger money, but if they don’t renew, it makes it a hard sale to attract another sponsor.

  6. I have a friend who had 10 seats for football. He gave them up when the remodeled the stadium. They moved his seats to a location that was not as good as the ones he had. He tried to get his seats in a better location but could not. He not only had to pay for those tickets but I believe he had to make a donation as well.
    From what I understand the cost of tickets and the food is way beyond most peoples means. I would take my own and forget about what they want.

  7. Just saw video where Cash Daniel is putting the plug in for everybody in Area Code 606 (Eastern Kentucky) too purchase tickets for $10. They will pack it out if that is happening. Should do this for other parts of the Kentucky too if ticket sales continue to be a problem.

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