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By Anne Halliwell
If there is one sign of UK basketball fans’ devotion, it is the campout for Big Blue Madness tickets in front of Memorial Coliseum.
As of 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, the tent count stood at 755. This count is larger than last year’s, which totaled 595, according to UK Athletics.
Tickets will become available at 7 a.m. on Saturday, and will be distributed at the Memorial Coliseum ticket window.
Tickets are free, but there is a limit of four tickets per control card. Four control cards are allowed to a tent.
Campers are expected to keep the sidewalks and other walkways clear for the safety of pedestrians, according to UK Athletics.
The campers have been asked to leave their vehicles in the parking lot off Alumni Drive.
The larger number of attendants has not had much of an effect on the number of parking violations, said Chrissie Balding Tune, spokeswoman for UK Parking and Transportation Services.
“We have issued some citations for parking in E lots near the ticket line; however, the number is consistent with previous years.
The majority of fans appear to be following our parking guidelines and relocating their vehicles after unloading,” she said.
At noon on Thursday, the tents surrounded Memorial Coliseum and lined Avenue of Champions from the University Bookstore Parking lot to the Singletary Center.
Campers that have not yet set up tents are not likely to receive tickets to the event, according to UK Athletics.
The location and popularity of the campout has caused an uptick in business on the corner of Avenue of Champions and Rose Street, said Joe Cooper, a member of the delivery staff at Coffea.
“They’ve camped right by us … We stay pretty hoppin’ when they’re around,” he said. “We’re having a lot more business right now.”
Zach Boehnke, shift supervisor at Qdoba, said his business has consistent sales all year, but has been steadier between rushes during Big Blue Madness.
Boehnke mentioned that the parking lot outside Qdoba has seen some non-customer use, but since most of the new vehicles have been dropping people or gear off, they have not been too disruptive.
Tickets will also be available online at ukathletics.com and ticketmaster.com for a minimal service fee.
Big Blue Madness will take place at 7:30 p.m on Oct. 18 at Rupp Arena.