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The UK football program is thirsting for change.
And the university is planning a $110-million facelift in order to help quench it.
Those plans include the removal of more than 6,000 seats — much of which was for students.
Even though students will be getting better seats, the renovations will slice the potential student attendance in half. This change means students searching for tickets may not find any.
Many have supported the decision to decrease student seating based on the fact that the student section has been anything but full for the past three seasons.
But to take away students’ tickets just because they don’t show up is a nearsighted approach.
The stadium will fill if the product is good, but it hasn’t been over the past three years.
When UK announced the renovations on Nov. 25, Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said yearly averages from the past three seasons were taken into account when deciding how many student tickets to make available.
In those three years, UK won nine games total, the same number Louisiana State University has won this year alone.
UK fans and students didn’t turn up those years because they did not want to see a mediocre team. But if head coach Mark Stoops can make the Cats competitive in the SEC, the stadium — and student section — will fill up.
There will be more students wanting tickets than there will be seats and the university should not be so shortsighted in their approach to renovations.
The Kernel sees why, from the university’s point of view reducing student seating makes sense.
UK has a dominant basketball program in a football-dominated conference.
While Rupp Arena is consistently recording the largest attendance figures in college basketball, other SEC schools are welcoming some of the largest crowds for football. Those schools have massive football stadiums and smaller, more unique basketball venues.
So reversing that design and downsizing Commonwealth Stadium to meet crowd expectations is understandable.
Renderings of the renovation show additions and improvements, including larger concourses, a new press box, a multipurpose recruiting room in the east end zone, and a new exterior.
These changes excite us, but they only benefit those with deep pockets. And going forward, if there is an expectation that UK football will some day become a consistent winner, 5,000 student seats will not be enough.