By Kevin Erpenbeck
UK basketball fans stood outside their tents Friday as they waited for the delivery of their control cards to secure tickets to this year’s Big Blue Madness, UK basketball’s first public practice.
A record 755 tents were accounted for in front of Memorial Coliseum Friday. UK campus officials opened up the area for tent setup at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2.
In order to ensure enough tickets would be available for every fan that decided to camp out, four control cards were given out to each tent, while one tent could have up to four occupants. Each control card was good for four tickets to Big Blue Madness, which were given out at 7 a.m. on Oct. 5.
Some fans made the trek out as early as possible to get a good spot for their tents in front of Memorial Coliseum. UK senior Elijah Zimmerman said his tent group began the journey around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.
From Tuesday to Friday afternoon, the area around Memorial Coliseum (dubbed “Tent City”) took on a life of its own, as fans came together to play games and get to know their tent neighbors.
“The experience here has been really good,” Zimmerman said. “When we come out in the evening, we like to pull out the cornhole boards and meet the people around us. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Fans even came from other universities to experience the event, as junior Kayla Mullins traveled from Eastern Kentucky University.
“It’s been pretty good here,” Mullins said. “It’s loud at night, but everyone is nice. The players are nice, and we got some autographs.”
UK had given out 1,000 free tickets to students on Sept. 26 as part of the student lottery system. Each student that was selected in the lottery was given two free tickets to the event.
Some students see UK’s distribution system as a fair way to hand out tickets to the event. All tickets that were distributed were free of charge.
“I’m OK with the way UK does the ticket handouts,” UK marketing senior Sal Olivet said. “It’s a lot more than students. UK has the biggest fan base throughout the nation. When I’m not a student next year, I’m going to want to do the same thing, so it’s hard to say it’s unfair for anyone.”
As part of the free distribution of tickets, some recipients turn around and sell the tickets online for a personal profit. Reports of tickets being sold online have ranged from $50 to $300.
Technically, however, scalping tickets is illegal.
“A person is guilty of ticket scalping when he/she intentionally sells or offers to sell a ticket to an event at a price greater than that charged at the place of admission or printed on the ticket, unless authorized by the issuer or by law,” according to UK Athletics.
Some fans do not see a point to selling the tickets for a profit.
“I think it’s awful,” Jason Mills said. “I don’t think they should be allowed to camp out here. This isn’t about making money. It’s about going and seeing the players and actually enjoying it. I don’t agree with those people.”
Some students, however, do not see an issue with scalping the tickets.
“It’s some people’s priority,” Zimmerman said. “Of course, I love to go. But sometimes people have different needs, whether that be some poor college student trying to get a meal or trying to cover some utilities. It’s about product demand.”