While most of Lexington was glued to the University of Kentucky's game against Notre Dame on Saturday, road crews were busy removing stop signs around the State Street corridor just off UK's campus.
Removing and replacing road signs — so revelers won't damage or steal them or get injured during after-game celebrations — is just one of many expenses paid by Lexington taxpayers during March Madness and the Final Four.
A final tally of how much UK's NCAA Tournament run will cost the city — including overtime for police, fire, streets and roads, and jail staff — is not yet available. But during last year's tournament, the total price topped $150,000, city officials said last year.
UK does not reimburse the city for any of those costs.
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Brenna Angel, a spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Gray, said the city and UK came to an agreement several years ago on how those costs would be shared. The city picks up the tab for all basketball-related events, and the university pays for costs associated with football.
UK paid the city more than $211,000 for traffic management and other costs for football games in 2014. In 2013, the university wrote the city a check for $202,000.
Jay Blanton, a spokesman for UK, said the cost-sharing agreement was hammered out by former UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. and then-Mayor Teresa Isaac.
"At one time, the city also paid for city police for football games," Blanton said. "They agreed that UK would cover costs for football since it was on UK's campus, and the city would cover costs for UK basketball games in the city-owned arena."
Overtime costs for police for games in Rupp Arena during the 2014-2015 season was $97,992, according to the city. That's in addition to the projected $150,000 in overtime and other expenses to control crowds after major games during the NCAA Tournament.
The university also has overtime costs for its staff during basketball postseason play, Blanton said. In 2012, the university had $22,285 in overtime costs. In 2014, the amount was $45,561.
Mayor Gray said Wednesday that the amount spent was a good investment, and that UK is the city's top economic generator.
"While crowd control and related activities associated with UK basketball games and celebrations are a considerable expense, we recognize the value of being the home of the university," Gray said. "UK is Lexington's largest employer and a source of significant economic development."
UK officials Thursday sent out what's become an annual plea for good behavior during the Final Four, as the Wildcats take on the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday night.
"We know students and fans will gather," UK President Eli Capilouto said in a news release. "We know you will celebrate. But remember you are representing the University of Kentucky and let your actions this weekend be reflective of the pride you have for your team and your university."
UK has created a #BannerBehavior hashtag that will be used this weekend as part of campus safety efforts.
"We wanted to create a hashtag to use during the Final Four to encourage all members of the BBN to exhibit behavior worthy of the banners hanging from the rafters at Rupp Arena and will also provide safety tips and information to students," Blanton said.
Various university social media accounts will be sharing information using the #BannerBehavior hashtag leading up to and throughout the weekend.
"The goal and sentiment of this hashtag is simple — be safe and respectful in your celebrations," Blanton said. "Watch out for one another. Keep each other safe. Be smart and careful. Have fun."