Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart took to the podium on Friday to discuss a multitude of topics as he usually does around this time of the year as a regrouping of sorts. Barnhart opened his statement by saluting the Kentucky Wildcat baseball team, falling short to LSU last weekend in the NCAA Super Regional. As Barnhart rambled on, he ended his statement by settling a much-debated topic relating to the fan atmosphere at the University of Kentucky. He also announced today that Kroger Field and ALL University of Kentucky sporting venues will give fans the option to purchase alcohol, debuting in the upcoming 2023 football season.
The decision comes after a 2019 ruling by the SEC to end the beer ban across their sports venues. Eleven out of the current 14 team conference sold beer last season, making Kentucky the 12th to amend their rules. As Mitch Barnhart went into detail about the process of the decision, he made it VERY clear that the decision to sell beer was made by a group and that it was not his call. "Keep in mind, this is not just a 'Mitch' decision, okay? I think it's an institutional decision we made together to make sure. (Alcohol) obviously wasn't allowed in our league for a long time, and the rules and policy changed and we've been able to serve that in our league for a bit. Other schools, it has worked. There are still some schools as of this spring that made that decision not to venture into this landscape."
Kentucky's baseball stadium, Kentucky Proud Park, and their softball stadium, John Cropp Stadium, recently started selling beer in their 2023 season as part of a "pilot initiative" for the Kentucky athletic department. According to KSR's Matt Jones, 'KPP' hosting the Lexington Regional earned upwards of $110,000.00 of alcohol sales during the entire season, ending just two weeks ago. "That went well. We had no issues, it was a very enjoyable spring in terms of baseball at KPP," Barnhart exclaimed as he evaluated the current state of alcohol sales at UK sporting events. "In an effort to continue that, we're going to expand those sales to all of our athletic venues and events this year. Football events and events at Rupp Arena and other sports venues."
Barnhart went on to say there will be more details in the following months as we loom toward football season, and that the university looked at overall fan experience from the baseball and softball events and in taking questions was very adamant that finances had nothing to do with the decision to further allow sales during UK sporting events. "I think if you just start making decisions on just revenue, there are other things that we'd do. Other ways you'd price some things you'd do things differently. You make decisions based on different things you've got in your program. What you're trying to do, whether it's the atmosphere in games or ammenities that your fans desire." Barnhart went on to say there is still plenty of training to do across the board, all the way from security of fans to concession sales. According to the athletic director, there are currently no plans of "alcohol-free sections" or any other restrictions in terms of buying booze.
With no official prices set, we can expect somewhere near the ballpark (no pun intended) of what UK charged at Kentucky Proud Park. 16 oz Bud Light and 12 oz Bud Light Seltzers were listed as $9 and 16 oz Michelob Ultra listed for $10 in the inaugural beer-selling season. There have been multiple reports of having a potential local craft beer being sponsored as well at Kroger Field.
Caturday Checkdown will be BACK this weekend to discuss our thoughts on beer at Kroger Field and the rest of the comments made by Mitch Barnhart regarding the current state of the Kentucky football program. We'll also discuss where Kentucky stands with some of their top recruits. Be on the lookout across Apple Podcasts and Spotify!