Embracing Big Blue Madness

Undergraduate studies freshman Julian Maher sleeps between classes during the Big Blue Madness campout on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 in Lexington, Ky. Maher is part of a group of 30 students sharing four tents. Photo by Joshua Qualls | Staff

Sara Nederhoed

With basketball season nearing, fans set up their tents on north campus to get their spot in line to buy tickets to UK’s first open practice of the year – Big Blue Madness.

Some UK basketball fans across the area lined up a week before Big Blue Madness tickets were even available to buy.

Braving the rain and colder weather, fans said that they have been in line since Saturday, sleeping outside in fold-up chairs. UK did not allow those in line to set up tents until Wednesday, leaving fans to their own devices and sleeping arrangements until then. 

Sixteen and 17-year-olds Ariyonna Friend and Caleb Stamper have been on campus since Saturday. They took advantage of their school’s excused absence of educational enhancement opportunities and took this week off to camp.

Friend said of the four years she has gotten tickets, this is her first year camping for the full week. Her mom normally camps all week and she would come down Friday for ticket sales. It is Stamper’s first year camping out for tickets. 

“Kentucky fans are crazy, that’s all I have to say,” Stamper said.

UK designated camping spots that can be located around Memorial Coliseum and the Joe Craft Center. 

In a campus-wide email on Monday, UK Athletics and police stressed the importance of safety not only for the people camping out, but those who attend UK.  

“We expect our fans and our students, staff and faculty to follow all university rules and to behave in a respectful manner toward one another. Part of building a community of belonging is ensuring everyone feels respected and safe on our campus,” the email said. 

At 5 a.m. Wednesday, fans were ready to claim one of the 180 camping spots in line. The closer the spot, the better the seats in Rupp Arena. The early wake up call was not immune to fights among fans for a better spot. 

The ticket sales have been an enormous turn out over the years, normally selling out Rupp Arena entirely. UK has encouraged many to buy tickets online at Ticketmaster.com, which go on sale at 10 p.m. on Friday. 

Many find it hard to believe so many UK basketball fans camp out for the team. 

“Don’t knock it ‘til you try it,” Friend said.