Clearly, there are going to be changes at Kentucky home football games this year.
The “clear” part comes in the form of a new Southeastern Conference mandate for fans to arrive only with a clear tote or bag to carry their personal items.
And it’s pretty clear that there’s a new name on the front of the venue that used to be known as Commonwealth Stadium: Kroger Field.
With the new name — and on-field logos — come some other game-day extras. Here are a few:
▪ Gate 6 of the stadium will be a fast-pass gate for Kroger Plus card holders. Or fans can gain easy entry via that gate by bringing a canned good with them, which will be donated to God’s Pantry food bank.
▪ Outside the stadium will be a large, VIP tailgate event before each home game on the lawn next to Bluegrass Technical and Community College. Kroger customers who spend more than $100 the week before the game will be invited to the free tailgating experience with free food and beverages.
Fans should present their receipts of $100 or more at the entrance, which will grant entry for four people. The Kroger Tailgate Experience is open to the first 500 fans.
▪ Once inside the stadium, there will be dedicated, healthy grab-and-go snack stops for prepackaged grocery items like granola bars, trail mixes and other things along the lower concourse. Kroger’s Simple Truth brand will be offered throughout the lower concourse inside gates 4, 9 and 12.
“We’ll have a place now where you can go down and get a kid a healthy snack and less of a line because we won’t be in the bigger concession stands,” said Brandon Baker, a senior account executive at JMI Sports. “We’ll have stand-alone concession areas.”
▪ Complimentary water will be available throughout the upper and lower concourses. Four large water tanks will be situated throughout the stadium and fans will be able to fill cups that will be provided. The new tanks mean the concession stands will no longer offer complimentary water this season.
▪ The policy that all fans regardless of age must have a ticket remains in place, but new “lap tickets” will be available now for infants 12 months and younger. Lap tickets are only available on game day and may be purchased at the Kroger Field ticket office (between gates 9 and 10) for $10 by an accompanying adult with a ticket.
▪ There will be a “Kroger Field Meal Deal” option that will bundle together some of the most popular menu items like hamburgers, chips and a drink.
▪ Some other new extras this season will include new bench-back seating in the south upper level of Kroger Field. Fans’ social media posts (including photos) will be incorporated into the video board presentation.
Clear bag details
As for the clear bag policy, it says that fans can carry one large, clear bag — either a one-gallon Ziploc-style bag or a 12-by-6-by-12-inch clear bag — plus a small clutch (smaller than 4.5-by-6.5 inches) for small personal items.
The policy, which the NFL has had for the last four seasons, has been put in place by all 14 Southeasten Conference schools to increase public safety and expedite entry into stadiums.
Compliant bags are available for purchase through the UK Bookstore. Fans not carrying any bags will be able to enter Kroger Field through specially marked bag-free admissions entries at each gate.
Kentucky announced Thursday that the pregame concert will be performed by Walker Montgomery, who won the opportunity via a fan vote in August.
The concert will take place on the stage in the plaza outside Gate 12 of Kroger Field. Montgomery will play immediately following the Cat Walk, which is scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m.
Montgomery is an 18-year-old aspiring singer, as well as a UK student from Nicholasville. He is the son of country music star John Michael Montgomery and nephew of Eddie Montgomery, of Montgomery Gentry.
▪ The home opener against Eastern Kentucky will be UK’s annual Heroes Day, which honors all active and reserve members of the armed forces along with police, firefighters and first responders. Members of the aforementioned groups are eligible to receiver two free tickets to the game with a valid service ID.
Tickets can be picked up on game day beginning at 8 a.m. at the ticket office located between gates 9 and 10.
UK Athletics also announced a specially priced ticket for the EKU game that benefits Homes For Our Troops, which builds and donates adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-Sept. 11 veterans. Fans can order tickets directly through a special website, www.UKathletics.com/HeroesDay and $5 of every $30 ticket sold via this site goes directly to the charity.