UK lifts tailgating restrictions for football game

ctruman@herald-leader.comOctober 5, 2012 

There was plenty of room for Kathy Shewmaker and Michael Kennedy to play cornhole while tailgating with friends in front of Bluegrass Community & Technical College.

MATT GOINS — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

The University of Kentucky has lifted the alcohol ban in tailgating areas on Cooper Drive for the football game Saturday against Mississippi State.

UK spokesman Jay Blanton said Friday morning that the school is working on a long-term tailgating plan to be announced before UK's Homecoming game on Oct. 20.

"Our students have taken the initiative in figuring out ways to collaborate," Blanton said.

Student government president Stephen Bilas said that the university, its students and police "have to figure out a way where we can make all parties happy."

In addition to alcohol, UK had banned bands and DJs in the non-reserved tailgate area along Cooper Drive between Sports Center Drive and University Drive. The ban was imposed before the South Carolina game last Saturday.

In an email message sent Friday morning to staff and students, President Eli Capilouto said the ban has been lifted for this game, but the university will take other steps "to ensure a safe and secure environment so that the tradition of tailgating can continue this weekend and, we hope, going forward for the rest of the season."

Capilouto and Bilas met with safety officials and others before deciding to lift the alcohol ban, according to the email message.

The group also will discuss how "tailgating can and should best proceed in this area."

The ban was based on fighting that broke out in that area before and after UK's loss to Western Kentucky on Sept. 15.

In Friday morning's email message, Capilouto said, "We hope to have a firm plan for how to ensure an enjoyable, responsible and safe environment — one where students play an important leadership role — for Homecoming later this month as well as future tailgating."

Bilas said early student reaction to the lifting of the ban has been positive: "Students are saying, 'We have these privileges back. Let's not lose them again.'"

Said Blanton: "We think the message has been sent about safety."

Cheryl Truman: (859) 231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman

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