Sidelines with John Clay

Fans weigh in on Kentucky football season ticket sales

Commonwealth Stadium renamed Kroger Field

The University of Kentucky held a news conference May 1, 2017 to announce Commonwealth Stadium is being renamed Kroger Field.
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The University of Kentucky held a news conference May 1, 2017 to announce Commonwealth Stadium is being renamed Kroger Field.

Lots of great feedback concerning my post about why Kentucky football season ticket sales haven’t reached the school’s goal.

Here are a few samples:

From Tom:

“A sixth reason should be the obnoxious noise coming from the sound system. It is bad rap (not music) and way too loud.”

And, in a reply:

“Ever been to a VT Thursday night game in Blacksburg? No need for a sound system there.”

From Ronald:

“BB; no problem for UK. Other than TN, sales for BB in the rest of the SEC is not good. But UK misread the football program. It used to be the out of towners with their campers would fill up about half of the stadium for the weekend party. Now that they have upgraded and need to pay for it they are getting a real lesson in semi- professional sports marketing. They needed to take the opposite approach in the beginning and sucked it up and kept the tickets at the same prices until the program success warrants, if ever. In the end they will get no additional revenues because as you say the scalpers, etc. will buy up the tickets at a discount. College Sports marketing 101.”

From Steven:

“One other issue for me in committing to UK football season tickets is the time commitment. Going to a game pretty much wrecks the whole day and thus half the Saturdays of the fall season.”

From Philip:

“John - good column today. I’m one of the long time, long suffering U.K. Football fans - after attending almost all home games since 1975, I gave up two of my four tickets two years ago, and last year I went to one game, the opener vs Southern Miss. Discouraged by that one, sure, but I just no longer enjoy the game experience - my reasons:

“The college games are tooooo long - the TV time outs, replay reviews, injury time outs, halftime, etc., all make the game 30 minutes to an hour longer than they need to be. Sitting there during the media time outs and waiting, waiting and waiting for the guy in the red shirt for the signal to resume becomes more insufferable as the night wears on;

“My 60” HD TV with surround sound, with a clean bathroom to myself, my favorite snacks and beverages, gorgeous wife, faithful dog, and Tempur -Pedic bed - all just steps away. No traffic, no late nights, no obnoxious people nearby and plenty to do during those media time outs;

“Your reason 5 is right on - we lost our seats on the 48 yard line and all our game buddies that we sat with for so many years. Our group split up and we all wound up in seats that aren’t as good and with bozos we don’t know. At least two of the other couples did not renew their seats after trying the new seats for a year.

“I still have the two seats, and will go to the FL game for sure, maybe two other home games, but will likely let my clients or kids use them the rest of the games.

“Maybe it’s my age, or football ‘fatigue’, I don’t know. I love the game, but I just don’t enjoy going to them like I used to.”

Kentucky Football fan day allowed fans of all ages to interact with the 2017-18 team.

From Bob:

“You were spot on listing the reasons why people are not coming back to Commonwealth Stad, oh, Kroger Field.

“The year after UK made everyone re-choose seats and we lost the ones we had for twenty years and left old friends behind, we dropped two of our four season tickets. We kept two since I didn’t want to be a Big Blue Scrooge. Then the K Fund assessment for the Parking Pass I worked for twelve years to get (four season tickets didn’t help get me a pass earlier) and I soured a little more.

“But then came the RAP songs every time there was a time out or break in the play (which are many when you add in the TV Time Outs). Don’t get me wrong, I love music, I was a DJ in College, and in a rock and roll band in High School. Just in the last few years I’ve seen Peter Frampton, Chicago, REO, Cheap Trick, CSN, Moody Blues, Eric Clapton so I’m not an old fuddy. But RAP every song! Mix it up a little!

“So last year at the South Carolina game my wife was getting warm and with two minutes to go in the half, she said she was going to the concourse to cool off. I told her we could leave now and be home in Versailles by the second half. We did and enjoyed a wonderful second half cheering on the CATS to victory in the air-conditioning, relaxing with a glass of wine.

“Going to a UK Football game is a commitment. We leave home at a designated time and we don’t return home until eight hours later, and we live close by.

“This year my son has our two tickets and parking pass. We will tailgate a few games using the pass and even go to a few, buying tickets at the game. But early in the season we will boat a little more at Lake Cumberland, and find other things to do, but we will be in front of the TV when the CATS kick off. We won’t miss a game and will enjoy it as much if not more.

“Good article! I’d be interested to see if others weigh in. But don’t forget to add the constant one genre of music as an additional reason. GO BIG BLUE!”

From Roger:

“An interesting summary of the possible problems plaguing the sales of UK Football season tickets at Commonwealth Stadium, i.e., the stadium now named for a Yankee grocer who DOES NOT have stores in all of the Commonwealth’s 120 counties.

“When I consider that game tickets were about $15 when the stadium opened in the mid-1970s, the inflation is interesting. Assuming 40 years with a starting ticket price of $15, one gets to about $95 with 4.75% annual inflation. Granted the late 1970s and early 1980s were periods of high inflation, but I don’t’ think the CPI would average 4.75% for a 40-year period including those amounts. Could be wrong.

“However, I’m also struck by the absolute price versus the price I pay for other things. I enjoy college football and opera. Go figure! Actually, I think it’s because both require God-given talent, practice, and coaching. For me, a wide receiver tip-toeing the sideline to cradle in a completed pass is just as thrilling as hearing a soprano, tenor, or baritone perform an aria or in an ensemble. But there is one major difference!

“I have had season seats at Cincinnati Opera, the second oldest opera company in the U.S., since the early 1990s. Before that I usually bought tickets on an as-desired basis beginning in the early 1980s. As a season ticket holder I have certain benefits. Among them is the ability, up to two-weeks prior to a performance date, to donate tickets for performances which I can’t attend or operas in which I have no interest. I receive the requisite acknowledgment from Cincinnati Opera and add that to my itemized deductions. I’ve never seen such a benefit for season college football tickets. And as you have noted, I do have multiple viewing options on electronic media for football; no such regular option for opera.

“Interestingly, about 12 years ago The Metropolitan Opera in NYC began broadcasting 8-10 of its Saturday matinees to selected cinemas around the world. The broadcasts are Line in HD with Dolby Stereo. Today they are seen from Scandinavia to the southern South America. Altogether, over 75 million such tickets have been sold in the last 10 years. (And those numbers may be low.) For $25-$30 I have an excellent seat away from the elements, and I hear some of the best opera singers in the world performing in one of the premier opera houses in the world. Only Alabama, Ohio State, USC, Notre Dame, and perhaps 5-8 other college football programs can offer some of the best football talent in the world in some of the premier venues in the world. And even their attendance can suffer if the opponent is a cupcake.”

Built in 1973, the home of the football Wildcats has undergone many changes through the years.

From Tim:

“It’s not just that there are so many other games on TV to watch, it’s also that virtually every UK game home and away is on some channel. If you want to see UK play football, you don’t have to pay to go to Commonwealth/Kroger.

“ I think there is more to parking than just the cost of the passes. I’ve only been to one game since I retired, but just driving around the stadium area these days, it appears to me that UK has systematically been reducing the amount of parking available. What’s now some sort of drainage area/natural habitat thing across Alumni from the Blue lot used to be a parking lot. The Blue lot itself appears to have lost some spaces as well in the beautification of it. The new football practice facility has eaten up more parking. And the baseball stadium is going to obliterate a very large parking and tailgating area. I don’t see that much if any of what’s been lost is being made up. If you don’t have a parking pass, or go with someone who does, to me it’s just too much of a hassle.

“Only those privileged sorts who abide in the luxury boxes or the club suites are allowed to indulge in adult beverages. The great unwashed must continue to do without (unlike at Papa John’s). At home in front of your (or my) 60-inch screen, that is not an issue.

”The games now last so long, going to one takes up half a day after you’ve fought traffic in and out.”

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There was also a lively discussion on my Facebook page.

And here are some tweets on the subject:

Related links:

Practice report: Update on punter competition, names to know in return game, other notes

Three non-stars who are vital in 2017 Kentuck college football

Kentucky’s Bannerman catching on at tight end

Kentucky’s cornerbacks hungry after 2016 season

Former Lafayette star Jedrick Wills could start first game at Alabama

Kentucky football home attendance under Mark Stoops

Date

Opponent

Attendance

9/7/13

Miami (O)

54,846

9/14/13

Louisville

65,445

9/28/13

Florida

62,076

10/12/13

Alabama

69,873

11/2/13

Alabama State

53,797

11/9/13

Missouri

55,290

11/30/13

Tennessee

54,986

8/30/14

UT-Martin

50,398

9/6/14

Ohio U

51,910

9/27/14

Vanderbilt

56,940

10/4/14

South Carolina

62,135

10/11/14

UL-Monroe

56,676

10/25/17

Miss State

64,791

11/8/14

Georgia

60,152

9/5/15

La-Lafayette

62,933

9/19/15

Florida

63,040

9/26/15

Missouri

58,008

10/3/15

Eastern Kentucky

63,380

10/15/15

Auburn

63,407

10/31/15

Tennessee

60,886

11/21/15

Charlotte

56,195

11/28/15

Louisville

62,512

9/3/16

Southern Miss

57,230

9/17/16

New Mexico St

49,669

9/24/16

South Carolina

51,702

10/8/16

Vanderbilt

55,030

10/22/16

Mississippi St

50,414

11/5/16

Georgia

62,507

11/19/16

Austin Peay

48,498

Note: The official capacity of Commonwealth Stadium, now Kroger Field, was reduced from approximately 67,500 to 61,000 before the 2015 season.

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