Car and pedestrian traffic appeared to move smoothly for the University of Kentucky's first Thursday night home football game in nearly 80 years.
Nearly a year of preparation went into an elaborate transportation plan for the UK-Auburn game, which required university employees and students to use satellite parking and shuttle buses to make room for the 6,000 ticket holders with parking spots at Commonwealth Stadium.
Except for occasional, brief stops, traffic moved relatively well on Tates Creek and Nicholasville roads, which are major arteries for game traffic and for commuters from downtown Lexington.
Those streets regularly accommodate 60,000-plus fans for Saturday games, but the city and UK made special plans for Thursday's game traffic overlapping with workday commutes to and from campus and downtown.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
It appeared that plenty of people avoided the area altogether. Many UK teachers canceled classes, and lots of students stayed home.
Sophomore Carly Bonner said she went to a lecture Thursday afternoon that normally is attended by more than 300 students, but only about 50 showed up.
"I haven't noticed any huge problems," she said.
UK spokesman Jay Blanton said there had been fewer cars towed and citations issued than on a Saturday game day. UK's operations center received about 150 calls in a 24-hour period, mostly with questions, he said.
"Generally, the shuttle system has gone well," Blanton said.
Tailgating started early in the day.
Rick and Bridget Taulbee got to their spot near the UK emergency room by 1:45 p.m. after having taken a half day off work.
"We like it," Rick Taulbee said of the Thursday game. "So far, so good. "
Stephanie and Mac McGhee and Eric and Valerie Burrage traveled from Auburn, Ala., for the game and said they were curious to see how UK handled a weeknight game. They've been to Thursday night games at Auburn, a football powerhouse that is a smaller school in a smaller city.
"They do cancel classes there," Eric Burrage said.
Earlier in the day, students and employees started the morning at various satellite parking lots around town.
UK HealthCare employees parked at Rupp Arena and were shuttled to the hospital campus.
Lori Thacker, a nurse at Markey Cancer Center, said she left her house about 25 minutes earlier than usual Thursday morning.
"It's crazy," Thacker said. "But it's good for the university."
Several buses were at the stop in front of Rupp Arena downtown at all times through the morning; buses departed every eight minutes.
UK hired Go Ground Transportation to provide shuttle service, spending about $40,000.
"So far everything seems to be planned out really well," Thacker said. "That may change later in the day as it gets closer to the game, though." It did not appear that any significant problems surfaced, however.
Several people with the university waited at the bus stop, greeting health care employees as they arrived. There were football-shaped stress balls on a table for employees to grab.
"It is what it is," said Amanda Neaves, a nurse for UK HealthCare. "We'll just make the best of it."
UK students were instructed to park at Southland Christian Church on Richmond Road or at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on North Broadway.
At 9 a.m., there were fewer than 100 cars in the Southland Christian lot.
Sarah Robertson, a UK senior, said classes should have been canceled or a closer parking alternative should have been found.
"Personally, I kind of think it's a mess," Robertson said. "It's very inconvenient. I think they could've found a better place."
Robertson said she was frustrated that students being shuttled from Richmond Road pay for campus parking. "Then they just ship us out here," she said.
Henry Rand, a senior, said the game should not affect academics. He said classes were called because of the game for several students he knew.
"I don't like it, because I'm parking further away than I live from campus," Rand said. "I don't even watch football. And I paid for that (campus) parking spot."
Seniors Amy Curtsinger and Megan McClendon arrived at Memorial Coliseum on a shuttle bus earlier than expected; they'd added extra time in case there were problems. They said the Southland church parking was well marked and had plenty of signs.
"It was easy," Curtsinger said.