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Mitch Barnhart feared fans “would walk away from us” if Kentucky approved alcohol sales

Mitch Barnhart (Vicky Graff Photo)

Q. What’s different about the — I guess the thing I struggle with and I think a lot of people do, what’s different about the fan who can afford a premium seat being able to be responsible enough to drink? It feels like it’s like the general population cannot be trusted to drink responsibly if they’re given that.

MITCH BARNHART: “It’s an availability issue. It’s a little more confined to that area. We have fewer people in terms of responsibility, in terms of that we don’t have, but when you do the math, it’s not near the numbers, the mass numbers that we’re responsible for, and I don’t say responsible for — there’s decision making that goes into all that, too. Everyone — there’s no one size fits all in these things.

“I think each institution is going to have to make their own decisions. There’s some institutions that have said, hey, we’re going to open it up and that’s what fans want.

I’ll be honest with you. I think that as I read my mail and I read a lot of it, there wasn’t this overarching piece that said, hey, if you open up alcohol sales that your department is going to just — your season ticket sales are going to explode and you’re going to get all this new fan base.

“The other side to that was, I’ll be honest with you, I felt like if we said we are going to do that at this point in time with what people have enjoyed about the experience at Kroger Field and at Rupp Arena, part of that is that they would walk away from us if we did that.

“So I felt like we were in a better — not a better spot, and I say it’s not — it wasn’t — let me separate the two pieces, too. I say it was not a money decision. The money decision to have people come and buy tickets and be a part of our group, that is a money decision, I get that. So don’t think I’m speaking out of both sides of my mouth.

“The money decision I am talking about is the selling of the alcohol.

I’m not worried about that part. I want to get this part right. I’m not saying we have. I hope we have. I hope we’ve got it right. I hope we’ve got it at least for this period of time, but we’ll monitor it and see where it goes, but at this point in time I feel like that’s the right place for us to be, and that’s my call. Dr. Capilouto has been terrific and supportive and we’ve talked about it, but between our campus safety folks and everyone else, we feel like it’s the right place for us to be.”


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  1. I don’t understand why people have to have beer to enjoy the game. You know it is going to be expensive. People lose their tempers more easily with alcohol and we don’t need a reputation of fights along with couch burning in Lexington. If you want to drink and watch the game, do it at home or in a bar but have a designated driver if you are away from home. I know the fans are upset about this especially because the boosters can drink…expensive drinks. Those ‘fans’ in the hoity toity area can well afford a cab or have their limo pick them up. I don’t want UK to be known as the rowdy alcohol driven fan base, we get enough bad press without that
    I almost had my eye put out by a drunk at the last UK vs ND game in Freedom Hall. When the UK Pros played at the YUM Center I had a drunk behind me pour a whole beer down my back when he lost his balance. No we don’t need it sold at UK…remember the accident after a football game that killed a man several years ago, I believe it was a football players best friend. Alcohol was involved and just last year a little boy lost his life when an underage boy who had been tailgating and drinking hit him when leaving the game and killed right in front of the parents of the little boy. Do we really need to sell alcohol?
    Someone said it was me and that is why that happened. When you are walking to the ladies room and a drunk bumps into you and knocks your glasses into your eye, it is not me. No, it is because a university played in both places and the conferences they were in at the time allowed it and with Freedom Hall the State owned it and I’m sure, but not positive they got their share of profit from the sale of beer. And the University got their share too from both places.
    I agree with Mitch Barnhart. We don’t need fights, arguing, wrecks or any more deaths.

  2. If they are selling alcohol at the game, I have no need to attend. I have been in too many places where that goes on, and never once been where there wasn’t a fight or someone spilling alcohol all over another person or their belongings. Went to a NASCAR race in Atlanta and a woman was so drunk she thought my cousin was her husband with another woman. I thought someone was going to get killed.
    My only problem is that if Barnhart feels this way, that is fine, but make it across the board; including the big donors in their private booths.
    You can’t use this argument to justify just for those who can’t afford to be privileged. At this point, he his just showing his justification can be bought and has nothing to do with safety or concern for the fans.

    1. I agree and he doesn’t treat all the donors the same either.

  3. Right on LindaS, we don’t need LOUD MOUTH SOUP at the games. There is not much good that comes from alcohol…good riddance.

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