Barnhart shares thoughts on declining attendance

By LARRY VAUGHT

Declining attendance was a problem for Kentucky football and has been for Kentucky basketball as well.

Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart has noticed but also appreciates fans who have been at games — and he hopes will be at the Music City Bowl Dec. 29th in Nashville when UK plays Northwestern

“I always tell people that we had a great crowd, an unbelievable crowd for the Florida game. It was one of the great atmospheres we’ve had here. It was wonderful and we just didn’t quite get it done. Sometimes when you get those big moments, you’ve got to break through those. You’ve got to get some of those and you’ve got to say, ‘Yep, we busted through that shell.’ And when you do, it has a ripple effect on what you do,” Barnhart said.

“Attendance across the country is a little bit of a struggle right now, in a lot of different places. We’ve got to do a better job in the industry and the enterprise that we’ve got of making sure that we’re doing all we can to provide an environment that people want to come and be a part of that. They have a collective decision, with their money and their time, and we’ve got to make sure that we’re doing a really good job with providing a game, an entertainment opportunity, whatever you want to call that, that says it’s worth your time and it’s worth your investment to come and be a part of that.”

Barnhart obviously believes it is at Kentucky and wants his athletic teams to provide “quality entertainment” for fans.

“We think college sports is unique. It provides a unique opportunity to come and fellowship and have fun. We have experienced over the last three days here in this stadium high school athletics at an incredible level. I think it’s a record attendance for the high school football playoffs, occurred here. There’s a reason people come to athletic events and we want to celebrate that, but we’ve gotta do a really good job, a very thoughtful job of how we put our events on,” Barnhart said Tuesday.

“There’s a responsibility on everybody’s part. We’ve got a competitive piece. We’ve got a responsibility how we put the event on and we gotta make sure we treat people well when they come to our venues. It’s a national issue and we’ve got to address that nationally. It’s not just college sports. It’s in every venue.”

3 comments

  1. That being said, people are getting tired of all the hike on ticket prices that taken place every year. Gotten to fancy of all the renovations that’s taken place to the football and basketball stadium that didn’t needed begin with. Plus with all the fat contracts that the coaches get isn’t going to solve the issue either. I’ve been saying for years if people quit showing up at these venues that gotten too expensive maybe it will stop all this price gauging.

    1. Right on Cats79, prices are high for tickets, and getting higher every year. Many loyal fans simply can’t afford them anymore. The SEC channel has been a blessing to see games and avoid the hassle that comes with driving long distances to see games live, paying for parking, and many times lodging too. Also, I think attendance levels are down, particularly in football, due to UK’s performance over the course of the 2017 season, particularly the extremely close games against lower level teams on their schedule. and losses due to poor coaching and player miscues, (remember the Florida game, 31 straight now, and wide open, uncovered, UF receivers) The Ole Miss loss at home sucked the wind out of many fans too. The outright pitiful performances against Georgia, and particularly Louisville, does not help. People are fed up with the same old product it seems. This was supposed to be a breakout year for UK football. While 7-5 is not a bad record for UK football, it under achieved expectations for many UK fans based on coach talk prior to the season. As for basketball, I for one am sort of tired of a whole brand new team every single year. Just my thoughts.

  2. We had the offense this year to meet or exceed pre season hype and expectations. There have probably .been worse UK defenses over the years, but with my short memory I don’t remember any. On any weekend you could see better pass coverage and tackling at almost any high school game. You take a look at all of the creditials that come with the new coaching hires, and it is apparent that we will be bottom feeding in the SEC for coaching quality and player development. Pruitt has had 5 yrs. of DC history and has never had any rated less than #16 in the country.

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