‘It means a lot.’ Students and athletes look forward to more traditional football experience.


A cheerleader leads the crowd in a cheer during the game against Central Michigan on Saturday Sept. 1, 2018, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 35-20. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

As Kroger Field plans to operate at full capacity this season, there is excitement in the air on campus. Fans across the state are ecstatic at the opportunity to fill the stands once again, as Big Blue Nation patiently awaits the return of a somewhat normal college football season.

Unlike last season, where masks were mandatory for all fans, masks are not required unless individuals are unvaccinated or are commuting through any indoor area of Kroger Field. 

Events are also making a comeback for the 2021 season. The Chevy Catwalk, where fans can gather to cheer on the Wildcats as they make their walk to Kroger Field, will be returning. Tailgating and cheerleaders will also return to the Caturday experience, as UK anticipates having the full experience of college football Saturdays in Lexington. 

Kentucky students who will be attending the games this fall were overjoyed to hear the news.

“I think it’s great,” freshman Zach Brangers said. “Especially as someone who’s been a fan of Kentucky football my whole life, it’s just great to see an opportunity to get people to be passionate again about the Wildcats.” 

While Brangers has attended games before, this season will be his first experience in the stands as a student. “It’s an unreal feeling that you can’t replicate,” he said. “It’s a different feeling in college.” 

Freshman Cameron McAlphin shared a similar reaction. 

“I was ecstatic,” McAlphin said. “It means a lot. Kroger Field used to be the place that everybody would go to for the games and have fun on a Saturday. Now we get that back.”

While McAlphin says he was glad to hear the news, he is concerned that protocols will revert to those of the 2020 season. “Of course I’m worried about it. Our cases keep going up, and with classes started, it could create another surge,” he said. “But I’m hopeful that our president will keep everything the same or better.”

As for the players competing on the field, they were just as excited to hear the news. 

“It means everything to me, man. I feel like the fans bring us more energy and make us go harder, especially on third down,” senior defensive tackle Marquan McCall said. “The fact that we got full capacity again is just amazing to me.” 

As for defensive back Davonte Robinson, the sound of cheering fans in the stands is what he’s looking forward to having again. 

“You know last year, third down, we missed that the crowd yelling behind us,” Robinson said.

“It really helps us out a lot too, when the quarterbacks are trying to hear their coach change up plays and stuff like that, so, it does mean a lot.”

While the team missed the roar of BBN last year, Robinson felt he took a particular factor for granted last season: seeing familiar faces.

“Because I’m from here, I know a lot of people who didn’t come just because it was COVID,” he said. “So, seeing a lot of people just around the city that I know, I missed seeing everybody’s face.”

With no limitations on capacity for the season, there will be plenty of faces to see for both the fans and the players in 2021, as football in the Bluegrass inches closer to what it was just a couple of years ago.