UK football: Long-time ticket holders have better chance at good seats

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJune 9, 2014 

Steel beams that will form the outer structure of the new look Commonwealth Stadium will start going up this week.

They will serve as a tangible reminder for many that change is coming.

Kentucky officials hope they also will serve as a visible reminder that a deadline is looming (June 30) for fans that want to get their choice of seats in the new stadium in 2015.

That June 30 date is fans' cutoff to up their K-Fund priority ranking (donations, ticket purchases for other sports), which will determine the order in which 2014 football season ticket holders get to select their seats in the re-seated stadium.

"It's about loyalty, how we can reward fans for their loyalty," athletics spokesman DeWayne Peevy told the Herald-Leader. "We're going to spend the summer figuring out a loyalty program that affects all sports. You know that if you stick with UK, you'll be rewarded for that."

The new system came out of UK's Fan Experience Committee as a way to give fans that have stayed with the football program a bonus. For instance, a 15-point bump will go to fans that have had tickets for three or more seasons (including 2014 tickets). A bonus of 75 points would go to fans who have kept season tickets since the 2000 season and beyond.

These points are added to points already accumulated from donations and other season ticket purchases.

"We believe this is a meaningful reward, but it's only a start in recognizing fan loyalty across all 22 of our sports," UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said in an open letter to fans last week. "This summer we are going to work through the details of what a new loyalty rewards program will look like."

Other stadium notes

■ All 17 of the new sideline suites have been sold, Peevy confirmed on Friday. All but a few of the 74 loge-level boxes have been sold, but he said they are expecting them to sell out soon. Higher priority points could equal a better loge box location as well.

■ One of the changes that has come out of the fan experience meetings is a new family friendly area of the stadium located in what used to be the upper area of the UK student section. That has been added since the designs were unveiled in the fall.

"It gives us an opportunity to run the Wildcat up there because we know there are kids and families," Peevy said.

UK is working with designers and construction firms to possibly add more family restrooms near that area as well.

■ Officials are still working out where the band will be seated during games, which could affect where people want their seats located as well as where UK faculty and staff and former letter winners will sit in the renovated stadium.

■ The roughly 700 season ticket holders displaced by ongoing construction in 2014 have all been relocated to available seats of their choice.

■ New subcommittees have been formed by UK athletics to tackle entertainment, fan experience and parking.

Practice facility updates

The $45 million football practice facility has advanced to the design development phase, which means that UK officials are expecting to get the plans and concepts completed by the end of June, Peevy said.

At least $23 million has been donated to the project so far, but the administrator did not have an updated figure yet, noting that any major gifts have to be acknowledged and approved at board meetings. He said there won't be any of those gifts at Tuesday's meeting, but they expect some prior to the June 30 deadline.

"We have had several meetings since mid-April and some during the NCAA Tournament that we feel will produce significant contributions," Peevy said.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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