Nov 2, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; A general view of Commonwealth Stadium before the game against the Alabama State Hornets. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Football: Change Can be Hard

Everyone is excited about the renovations and new additions that are coming for Kentucky football in the next few years. The projects, totaling over $150 million, will bring Wildcat football more in line with their SEC brethren and further help shed the “basketball school” label that has plagued the program for so long. The culture change at UK is something that has been a long time coming and is a dream come true for the long-suffering Kentucky football fan.

The winds of change may also bring some negative attributes as well. One of the common complaints following the reveal has been the loss of approximately 6,000 seats inside the stadium to the new press box and the recruiting patio in the end zone. After several years of empty bleachers, one can’t really blame UK for making that call. Other seats (including yours truly’s) will have to be moved to other parts of the stadium to make room for improvements in 2015. It’s an unfortunate side effect of progress but necessary.

Now there is another big reason to complain and you have to empathize with those affected. Kentucky recently sent emails and letters to some season ticket holders who have parking passes letting them know that their pass would be reassigned because of the construction that will be going on the next few years. Those affected seem to be primarily in the RV and Blue lots. The correspondence from UK Athletics reads as such:

“The ongoing renovation of Commonwealth and a required Federal Emergency Management Agency project make it necessary to reallocate parking permits over each of the next several years, beginning next season, based on K Fund priority ranking. To account for the new parking configuration, we will take the following steps: Reallocation of vehicle parking permits, including adding new lots and shifting boundaries, moving the RV Lot into the current Orange Lot.

If your K Fund priority rank is between 1 and 2000, your renewal invoice will display the same parking permit(s) you had last season. Likewise, if you parked in Red/Blue Accessible, Red/Blue Suite, or Parking Structure 1 last year, your permit will be unaffected. If your K Fund priority ranking is 2001 or above , your renewal invoice will show ‘Parking Lot TBD.’ If you had an RV Lot permit last season, you will receive a separate RV Lot invoice by Feb. 28. We intend to reselect assigned parking spaces in the new RV lot based on your K Fund priority ranking.”

It’s a tough pill to swallow for folks who have been loyal supporters of the program for a long time. Although many less than they claim, otherwise their K Fund ranking would be much higher. There are already many threatening to not renew their tickets if they don’t get satisfaction in the matter. And if they want to, Kentucky should let them. Because this is the kind of thing that has held UK football back in the past. Not making changes for the sake of keeping things the same for fans.

The reality is that Kentucky football NEEDS change, in nearly every category imaginable. Kentucky needs to change the entire culture that surrounds this program and if fans are going to stop attending games because they cant park 30 feet from the gate anymore, then let them go and attract passionate fans. There is no way to make everyone happy, so the university may as well do the project as they want it to be. If they fans really love their team, then they will come. Orange lot is not that far from Commonwealth. If you look around other SEC stadiums (and nearly any other non-metropolitan football stadiums) Kentucky is uncommon in the way that parking is so close to the venue. And frankly, it’s one of the reasons that CWs has been so visually unattractive.

So, it is a shame that some good folks have to be displaced by the changes that are coming but you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet. You can’t expect to keep everything the same and somehow change the program at the same time. So to those who will spend their 2015 Saturdays at home in front of the big screen, farewell, hopefully you get a good seat when Commonwealth starts selling out again.


Tags: Football Kentucky Wildcats

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