Fans sit on north campus waiting for official campout start


UK fans Line their lawn chairs across from Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017 to secure their place in line for Big Blue Madness tickets. Photo by Mark C. Walsh | Staff

Kelsey Mattingly

UK’s annual Big Blue Madness campout is in full swing, and fans from across the Bluegrass are anxiously awaiting the horn to sound at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, signaling time for tent setup.

One such fan is Cassie Cooper, a 32-year-old mother of two from Nicholasville, who is in her tenth year of camping. Cooper, seated directly across from Memorial Coliseum, joined several other fans in early preparation for the campout.

“I did it one time and I was hooked, and I mean I love UK basketball,” Cooper said.

Fans take off work days before the actual campout begins and set up shop across the street from the designated tent spots. Setup does not begin until officials sound a horn at 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, at which point fans sprint across the street with supplies in hand to claim their spot in line.

“If I didn’t have to work Sunday and Monday, I would probably be one of those people who is here on Sunday,” Cooper said.

Having taken a vacation day to hold down the fort for her group on Tuesday, Cooper emphasized that having a large group on your side is the key to getting a good spot. Making friends with those around you and working together will guarantee your tent has a spot in line, regardless of how close it is to the front.

The official rules of ticket sales state that all fans wanting tickets must be present at 2:00 p.m. on Friday to receive their control cards, regardless of age.

“I have two daughters and both of them, they were both born in August, have been every year since they were 5 weeks old,” Cooper said.

Her daughters will be joining her in the campout later this week, as will many other family members of the early bird campers. Once each member is present and receives their control card, they trade it in at the ticket window for two tickets each.

While many fans like Cooper have genuine excitement to attend Big Blue Madness, some campers use this opportunity to make a profit. In previous years, lower-level tickets to Big Blue Madness, which are free to the public, have sold on Craigslist for hundreds of dollars. Fans get around this by advertising them as free tickets, and then swindling cash from desperate fans as the event gets closer.

Regardless of their agenda, fans from across the state gather together in close proximity and share in excitement for the upcoming basketball season. Players and staff have been known to visit the campers and news coverage is plentiful as reporters look for the most outrageous fans on campus.

As for those who think Kentucky fans are crazy for camping out, Cooper had something to share.

“I’ve told them I feel like it’s our tailgate for basketball and it’s just a good time,” Cooper said. “Once the tents are up, everybody loves each other again and it’s all good.”

Only a few days remain before tents will be popping up around Memorial Coliseum and the students of North Campus will be subject to crowded crosswalks, all in the name of Head Coach John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.