By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky football fans have been some of the most loyal fans in the country. Not saying it is easy to be a Kentucky basketball fan, but it is. The basketball team wins and competes for national championships. The football team … well losing seasons are far too common.
Many fans failed to renew their season tickets this year. Many are already indicating barring a miraculous finish to the season, they will join the non-renew group next year.
Carter Wasson is a typical UK football fan — except he did have a Wildcat with a football tattooed on his leg if you wonder just how much he loves UK football.
But he gave up his tickets this year primarily for financial reasons.
“Just using rough numbers, I spent at least $40,000 across 25 years of season tickets, K-Fund donations and costs associated with attendance at probably more than 150 games. In reality, it’s most likely closer to $50,000 if I count pay per view and more than a few years of purchasing someone else’s tickets at the beginning of every season,” Wasson said.
“For a quarter of a century, this choice always came at the expense of something else in that year’s budget. The product on the field is still sub-standard and I can’t justify rewarding poor performance by throwing good money after bad.”
Worse yet for UK, Wasson doesn’t see a scenario where he would ever buy season tickets again even with UK’s win over South Carolina Saturday that kept alive hopes UK might reach a bowl game this season.
“It took decade’s of continual upgrades to earn the seats I just gave up. I see no good reason to start that process all over again. I am, however, blue to the bone and will always pull for the Cats so I can see going to the occasional game,” he said.
He’s been frustrated by coach Mark Stoops and his staff not having the understanding of the players’ “capacity” to understand their roles and lack of development in highly rated recruits.
“The continued lack of continuity in the offensive line. The lack of leadership within the team. The lack of ability to effectively deal with defeat. The lack of ability to effectively deal with success,” a frustrated Wasson said when asked what frustrated him most.
“I have always been and will always be a Wildcat football fan. That will never change. I am just weary of all the talk and no walk.”
So is Kim Gaines, another long-time Kentucky fan.
“My dad has bought our family season tickets for over 20 years. After rising K-Fund donations, having to re-select seats after sitting with same folks for years and let’s not leave out disappointing outcomes over and over, he let them go this year,” Gaines said.
“I have always stayed and supported win or lose til the bitter end until this year. Something has to give.”
It does. Fans are disgruntled with more than the product Mark Stoops has put on the field. Many are still bitter over being forced to move to different seat locations when Commonwealth Stadium was renovated last year and those who made the biggest donations got first choice on tickets.
Wayne Kinsel thought not giving season ticket holders for over 25 years the chance to retain the same seats was “just plain wrong and if you want loyalty, you should show loyalty to those fans.”
Many more are upset over the higher parking costs — and also being forced to move to parking lots not as convenient to the stadium as where they had parked for years for a higher price.
Could winning cure all this? Maybe. But it’s going to take a lot of winning even with the South Carolina victory and even then I’m not sure those fans who were so loyal for so many years are ever going to be as supportive as they once were.
Follow Larry @vaughtsviews