Student tailgate area empty following alcohol ban

By Chase Sanders

[email protected]

The student tailgating area known as The Bowl was empty for the first time in a long time during the hours leading up to Saturday’s football home game.

No men decked out in Sperrys. No women in blue sundresses. No live band. No drinking.

All of this was a result of the policy UK President Eli Capilouto put into action after assaults occurred in the student tailgating area before and after the Cats played Western Kentucky on Sept. 15.

For this weekend, alcohol and live bands and DJs were banned at the student tailgate spot. UK will meet with city and state officials this week to decide if the ban will stay.

Jordan Ethington, a secondary social-studies education sophomore, found herself tailgating in the Blue Lot of Commonwealth Stadium alongside her close friend’s parents and their 14 pounds of chicken. She said she was not content with Capilouto’s decision.

“I think he went too far,” Ethington said. “Tailgating is a huge part of what we love as students. It’s a huge part of UK.”

She surveyed the area between Cooper Drive and Sports Center Drive from the stadium lot.

“There’s nobody there. There’s a bunch of police over there looking at nothing. There aren’t any kids there,” Ethington said.

“Next week I’ll give it a try and go back over there, but I just hope this doesn’t happen again,” she said.

Lexington police Lt. Dean Marcum said the department “only made a few arrests” in the area Saturday.

“I don’t think it was nearly as busy as expected,” he said.”

UK graduate Nathan McDivitt recalled when he was a student.

“I think being over there was a great atmosphere,” he said.

He believes the weekend’s policy went too far.

“I think they went to an extreme,” McDivitt said. “A little bit more security would’ve been a good step in the right direction.”

He said students still would tailgate in neighborhoods, which has an effect on ticket sales.

“The vast majority of the students won’t care that much to come all the way back to the stadium,” he said. “I saw a picture of the area today, and it was dull. The student section will definitely suffer because of that.”

Former UK football player Scott Robey said not allowing students to tailgate in The Bowl could have negative effects besides ticket sales.

“All you’ve done now is disperse kids out away from campus and increase the potential of one them getting behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking,” he said.

Ross Kushner, a friend and fellow tailgater of Robey’s, thought safety was the key to the policy.

“It’s unfortunate, but I think the right thing was for the president to ban it for the time being,” he said.

The UK pharmacy alumnus said when big crowds get together and alcohol is involved, anyone drinking should do so responsibly.

“I’m not saying we didn’t drink when I was in college,” Kushner said. “I’m just saying we were responsible.”

He said he hopes students are allowed to tailgate as usual in The Bowl soon.

“Tailgating is the best part of the day,” he said. “I mean we get inside the stadium, and the score is ugly sometimes.”