UK Football

UK football parking rates jump 57 percent

A week after the University of Kentucky increased the price of football tickets, fans took another hit to the wallet: Parking lot permits will cost $100 more this season than last.

The 57 percent increase pushed the price to $275 for fans in the blue, purple, orange, green and red lots.

All other parking passes are going up as well.

RV season passes have increased from $420 to $575, said Tony Neely, media relations director for UK Athletics. Passes for parking structure No. 1 have gone up from $115 to $165.

Every year around this time, holders of season tickets and parking passes receive a renewal letter. This one detailed the rate hikes.

Neely said he didn't know how many people might opt out because of the higher price. But, he said, "we have a very long waiting list for parking passes and believe we will sell all available spaces."

Selling all the spaces at the higher rate will generate about $700,000.

The season ticket increases, announced April 12, amount to an $87-per-seat hike. (That includes a $37 increase in tickets and a $50 jump in the mandatory contribution to the K-Fund.) So, season ticket holders with parking lot permits will pay at least $187 more for the seven home games tentatively scheduled for the fall.

Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart explained last week that the ticket price increase would raise $1.2 million, and the K-Fund increase is expected to generate $1.8 million for UK. That money, Barnhart said, is needed to keep up with expenses.

Lexington's Scott Carter is one fan who's had enough.

"I'm done," Carter said after receiving his letter. He and three buddies have had seats since 1987 when they lived together in a UK dorm.

"We've supported the program through the good and bad. ... mainly the bad," he said. He characterized his feelings about the increase as "not printable."

Although games have meant a lot to him over the years, he doesn't think he'll change his mind. The extra fee to park in what he calls the "orange field" near the campus equine center is too much.

"When it rains, I have to drive my truck because it's four-wheel drive," he said.

"I have thought about this since last season," he said with a heavy sigh, "I'm not going to change my mind."

One of Carter's end zone buddies said he hasn't reached a tipping point yet but could soon.

"I can see it from the university's point of view there is an incredible market" for the tickets and parking, said Stuart McIntosh. "I guess they don't think they've reached the maximum that people have the ability to pay."

Still, he said, he's not 100 percent sure he'll be in the stands this season. The rate hike, coupled with two active teenagers with lots of weekend events, signal "this may be the year" to give up his season tickets.

But for those whose Big Blue fever has no price limit, UK is offering a new "Reserve Parking Space" program.

A $2,500 fee paid to the K-Fund allows fans a chance to purchase a special $275 pass that allows them a guaranteed spot close to the stadium no matter what time they arrive. (That's opposed to a first-come, first-served space in a designated lot.) This is, UK's Web site says, "above and beyond any additional K-Fund giving."

It does, however, boost fans' K-Fund priority rating.