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Not all Kentucky fans thrilled with home non-conference basketball schedule

Some Kentucky fans are not happy with the 2019-20 home schedule. (Amber Tyler Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Even before Kentucky released its non-conference schedule for the 2019-2020 season, I had two friends who had already decided to give up season tickets at Rupp Arena.

Both decided to save money for postseason games and also to spent money for tickets to one or two high level games at Rupp Arena rather than shell out a donation to the Blue-White fund and buy season tickets.

Now that the schedule has been released, they are even happier.

“I have zero regrets for letting them go,” one season ticket holder told me. “I’d rather spend it on SEC (Tournament).”

She may not be alone and even with Rupp Arena taking out about 3,000 upper level seats this summer as part of the arena renovation, there still probably will be home games next season that are not sold out — and I am not talking about exhibition games against Georgetown College and Kentucky State.

The only marquee home game before SEC play is Louisville on Dec. 28.

Before that Rupp Arena season ticket holders got to see UK play UAB, Lamar, Utah Valley, Eastern Kentucky, Evansville, Mount St. Mary’s, Fairleigh Dickinson and Georgia Tech. Four of those teams had losing records last year. Only one made the NCAA Tournament and it lost in the first round.

Obviously UK is playing Evansville because former Cat Walter McCarty is the head coach. Kentucky is playing Georgia Tech because of John Calipari’s friendship with Josh Pastner.  The game with Utah Valley was probably scheduled when former Cat Mark Pope was still the coach there.

But whatever the reason for scheduling any of the games, it’s not a schedule UK fans are going to love. Certainly there should be some good SEC home matchups. But if UK is going to play Lamar, why not play Murray. Instead of Mount St. Mary’s, what about Northern. Take Western Kentucky over Georgia Tech.

It also continues to irk me that five times during the high school football season, UK has a basketball event at Rupp Arena. I understand the SEC won’t let other sports play on Saturdays during football season but those UK basketball games/exhibitions on Friday night are not good for high school football .

But that’s nothing to how upset some fans are getting with the home schedule and showing it by not renewing season tickets.

15 comments

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  1. For most of my life, I considered the opportunity to watch a game at Rupp Arena a major thrill, and always enjoyed the entire experience, from arriving at Rupp early to watch all of the pre-game activities, including the player workout and team warmups, the game of course, and even enduing the traffic for about an hour after the game to clear the downtown area and return home. I never passed on an opportunity to be there for a game.

    Two years ago, I welcomed the opportunity to attend a game at Rupp, and the fact that the opponent would be Harvard was of very little concern to me. However, I must say that the entire game experience was not what it had always been in the past, and when I left after the game, I knew that I had no desire to ever watch another game live at Rupp Arena again. I will watch at home for the rest the time that God is gracious to give me.

    Frankly, if I can have an opportunity to attend a UK game elsewhere, such as during a post season appearance, or a game that is played away or on a neutral court, I would graciously accept that opportunity, but I have declined a handful of opportunities to go to games at Rupp since that Harvard game, and I have no remorse over it. I cannot imagine paying huge sums of money for season tickets for that experience.

  2. Not a ringing endorsement for UK basketball. Wow.

  3. Not a very exciting schedule…expect attendance to be down.

  4. Pup, It seems that you are the only Rah Rah here. Our non conference home schedule is BLAH at best. No big name holiday tournaments and I fear another Duke like azzwhooping from Michigan State since Calipari doesn’t believe in having his team ready to play its openers. Playing a bunch of Popcorn States afterward might heal some bruised egos but I doubt that it will get us ready for Lousyville or our SEC slate. We could very well be looking at 6 losses by the end of January. Rah Rah Rah! Coach, I am calling you out! Go back to being the coach you were at UMass and Memphis. Get in the gym and get this team ready to play the Spartans. If we win that game, we could very well be looking at a no loss or 1 loss team at the end of January. Getting off to a first game win this year is vital to this KY team.

    1. Why don’t you just wait and see how the season plays out before you just write the Cats off? You are a piece of work.

      1. Pup,
        You are so focused on attacking everything I post, that you don’t even read them anymore. I gave two scenarios for this year’s team. One was not so promising and the other of a potentially No. 1 ranked team. You of course attack the former while ignoring the latter. You really should get a site of your own and then all of the posts would be Rah Rah in nature. You are wrong on this subject. We deserve a better non conference home schedule. We need a better non conference home schedule to be ready for the SEC portion of our schedule.

        1. Catmandoo, not everybody has to agree with you on all things involving UK sports. You bring a lot of criticism your way all by yourself. A weaker schedule may actually help the Cats. I am no prophet, and neither are you.

  5. I have attended basketball games at Rupp over the course of my many years on this earth. (One game at Memorial…awesome experience) The atmosphere has declined greatly. I don’t feel that it is, truly, a home court advantage anymore.
    My husband and I decided to become season ticket holders for the 2019-2020 season. After speaking with the ticket office, twice, we changed our minds. Cost of tickets, plus the K-fund donation, PLUS the $100,00O commitment was a little too much for us. He is not retired so Tuesday night games that tip at 9 pm, and an hour plus drive home, and a schedule that leaves a bit to be desired…not much contemplation needed. Had it not been for the $100,000, we would’ve pulled the trigger. My understanding is, any new season ticket holders, based on seat location will be charged a monetary commitment pledge. I feel this will price out the potential new, enthusiastic fans. They will pick and choose games, like I intend to do.

    We decided to save our funds for continued attendance to the SEC tourney and future away sites. We went to Kansas City and had a great time, other than the end result of the game.

    We are longtime season ticket holders for football…8 seats, and attend one away game each season. We are committed and attend ALL home games regardless of opponent.

    1. Thanks so much for this info

      1. I wish that it wasn’t so but, you are welcome!

  6. I blame the UK bean counters! When it all becomes about money, and it has; UK will pay the price. The price? Empty seats. UK had better figure this out quick. As for the schedule, bring em on. UK has plenty to be concerned about with this schedule. It is what it is. Enjoy.

    1. Pup,
      You are so pathetically Rah Rah. When we put a good product on the court and play a worthy opponent, BBN will pay $100 for a nosebleed seat. We have a home non conference schedule that is almost as pathetic as you. You need to wake up and smell the crap that you are shoveling.

  7. The improved results in athletics have been there but the price to pay is very high. Unfortunately you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Not sure what the solution will be down the road because as costs of coaches, facilities, travel and everything else it takes to run a Top 10 program increases so will the ticket prices. I’m afraid soon the players will be playing in front of half filled or less stadiums while the fans sit at home and watch the game on a big screen tv or wear a 3D headset that makes them feel like they are in the stadium.

    https://kentuckysportsradio.com/main/kentucky-finishes-no-2-in-cbs-sports-best-in-college-sports-rankings/

    1. Maybe so Keith, but I say UK could lower prices, and still make money. If the atmosphere is not what it once was, and people stay home, it hurts the bottom line anyway don’t it? When I hear words like atmosphere, I think of passionate rabid fans, noise, team spirit, and attendance showing a packed house. Strictly on optics, I don’t see that happening elsewhere in the country; at places like UNC, Duke, Louisville, and even other SEC schools. If what is being described as taking place at Rupp in the comments here is accurate, it is going to take a toll on this basketball program long term if it don’t get fixed. People who are smart enough to figure this out, and have the power to fix this had better wake up.

  8. In this day and age, there is no excuse for empty seats at game time. Every ticket has a bar code that are scanned as each ticket holder enters Rupp Arena. Computers, therefore, know instantly which seats have been accounted for by bodies entering the arena, and which seats will not be occupied at game time.

    Sell those tickets for whatever price the market can bear to maximize income for the event, but on each ticket print the following message:

    “To ensure that every seat will be occupied by a Big Blue Fan, each ticket holder must enter the arena no later than 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time for the game. At that time, any ticket for that game will be void and STAND BY TICKETS WILL BE ISSUED TO FANS WAITING TO SEE THE CATS.”

    The University can make allowances at the time of games for those ticket holders that can verify at least 15 minutes prior to tip off that they are on their way and have been delayed due to unexpected traffic or severe weather. However, if those late arriving ticket holders to NOT make it to such events after asking for a time waiver twice in a single season, that ticket holder shall lose his/her ticket priority for purchasing tickets in future seasons, NO EXCEPTIONS.

    This will have several benefits. It will reinforce the importance of using one’s tickets and arriving prior to the pre-game ceremonies. It will ensure that all seats are used for each game, occupied by loyal big blue fans willing to travel to Rupp for games on the chance of getting such an opportunity.

    For any given game, there are several hundred unused seats in Rupp Arena, something that should not be tolerated by the powers that be.

    Set the price of these STAND BY Tickets low so regular fans can afford them, and set the price just high enough to cover the University’s direct cost for administering this program, which with computers, should required minimal staffing additions at the arena. Print and sell these STAND BY Tickets from “Best” to “Worst” order, starting with lower level, and moving upward. Those tickets will be gobbled up by real fans so fast that they will see all of the game.

    When I was in high school, UK sold standing room tickets to Memorial, and I took advantage of that to see Rupp’s Runts play games in 1966. My dad worked for the C&O railroad, got me passenger passes, and I rode the train from Ashland to Lexington on Saturday morning, got a ride from the train station at Rose and Vine to Rose and Euclid, and stood in line for hours to get one of those standing room tickets. I returned to Ashland on Sunday evening, staying with an Aunt and Uncle in Lexington on Saturday night.

    There is no reason these STAND BY tickets cannot be done other than UK is only interested in the money they generate from the initial ticket sales, NOT IN HAVING FANS FILL THE SEATS, which is a very sad commentary.

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