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.”