The University of Kentucky is blaming a downgraded home schedule and a bad economy for an 8 percent drop in football season ticket sales.
The decrease in sales from last season came to light as part of a report Sunday by the Birmingham News, which surveyed all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools about their 2010 season tickets. Kentucky, one of 68 schools to respond to the survey, sold 45,009 season tickets to the public this year.
The totals do not count tickets sold or provided to students and faculty or staff.
UK spokesman Tony Neely said UK sold out its season tickets in 2009 thanks to a schedule that featured arch-rival Louisville, defending national champion Florida, eventual national champion Alabama, and traditional rival Tennessee.
This year's seven-game UK home schedule includes conference opponents Auburn (No. 21 in The Associated Press poll), Georgia (No. 22), South Carolina (No. 24) and Vanderbilt, along with non-conference foes Western Kentucky, Akron and Charleston Southern, a Football Championship Subdivision program.
"Our season-ticket package last year was one of the greatest in the history of college football," Neely said. "This year's package is a good season ticket; we have three teams in the Top 25. But last year was definitely a peak year. This year's sales are in line with our average over the last several years."
UK increased the price of a season ticket by $37 since last season, but Neely did not mention the higher cost or an increase in the K-Fund contribution as a factor in the decline.
"We anticipated with the economy and the unbalanced schedule that we might have a slight drop-off, but we are very pleased with how our fans bought season tickets," Neely said. "There's no panic, this is where we expected we'd be."
Kentucky wasn't the only Southeastern Conference program to experience a decline in sales. Mississippi (10 percent), South Carolina (7 percent), Tennessee (4 percent) and Auburn (3 percent) also lost sales.
Defending national champion Alabama saw its season ticket sales go up 11 percent. Louisville's sales, thanks in large part to the expansion of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, increased 31 percent.
Among schools that provided details about ticket sales, U of L's increase was the third-greatest, trailing only Houston (70 percent) and Marshall (45 percent).
Of the 68 schools in the survey, 36 reported declines, 25 had an increase, and eight stayed the same.
The amount of increases and decreases nationally were comparable to those in last year's survey, the News reported.