‘Crazy’ UK fans elbow their way to front of Big Blue Madness Campout


Kentucky fans sprint to place their tents in line outside Memorial Coliseum on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky. Fans line up in order to get the best seats for Big Blue Madness, UK’s kickoff of the basketball season. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Rick Childress

In the mad dash that was this year’s Big Blue Madness Campout, strength proved far superior to patience. 

“Boxing people out,” said Mac Hancock, a UK freshman, when asked what strategy he and his buddies used to get to the first spot in line for Big Blue Madness tickets. “We had more people so it was easier for us to get that spot.”

Big Blue Madness, UK’s annual first practice open to the public, has annually been precluded by the campout, where die-hard UK fans wait for days in advance in order to get free tickets which are given on a first-come, first-serve basis. Safety officials asked participants to wait until 5 a.m. on Wednesday before claiming their spot in the ticket line at Memorial Coliseum. 

Alex Gilbert, a nursing freshman and another member of the group that claimed the first spot, said their gang of about dozen “crazy Kentucky basketball fans” showed up at the camp out before the camp out at 1 a.m. the night prior.

In years past, would-be campers looking to grab free, primo seats in Rupp Arena usually waited days in advance. 

But this year, like years past, still featured the surge of UK fans zipping from Euclid Avenue to the pre-marked camping spots in front of Memorial Coliseum. 

“It’s exhilarating for sure,” Gilbert said. 

“You see all these people lined up with their big tents already halfway set up, and we just have this one flat one that we got set up finally,” Hancock said.

Their group managed to plant their large, family-size tent right outside the door of the ticket office, but they had some technical difficulties when actually trying to erect the tent quickly.

“It’s kind of like our first time setting up a tent,” Hancock said with a laugh.

Until Saturday night at 10 p.m. when ticket distribution starts, passing UK students will notice the makeshift tent city around the Coliseum. In previous years, UK basketball players have occasionally joined fans in the campout to play games and connect with fans.

Big Blue Madness, a basketball practice that features smoke, lasers and occasionally Drake, will be held in Rupp Arena at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12. 

“We got kind of got lucky to get the number one spot,” Hancock said.