Fans camp out for Madness tickets


UK Basketball fans camp outside of Memorial Coliseum Wednesday, September 29, 2010 in order to get Big Blue Madness tickets.

By Caitlin Cox

Tents overtook the perimeter of Memorial Coliseum, stretching as far as Rose Street, as fans waited Wednesday for tickets to the first look at this year’s men’s basketball team.

About 350 tents were outside of the arena, as fans turned the area into a swarm of blue, and “Free Enes” signs hung on tents and on signs poking out of the ground, and people waited for tickets to Big Blue Madness, the first official UK men’s basketball practice.

Lester Kellerhakes, a Lexington resident, has been camping out annually since 2004, and he said it is all because of his dedication to the Big Blue Nation. He said it shows belief in UK.

Kellerhakes is not alone in his pride. The campout is also familiar territory to Mark Robertson, who started camping out for tickets at age 10 with his grandfather in the early 1980s.

Marie Champlin, of London, Ky., is a first year camper, and she was in line to set up her tent with family hours before it was permitted. She said she is excited for the week, especially to celebrate her birthday on Thursday with other Cats fans.

Matt Elswick, of Willisburg, Ky., said he is camping out for lower arena tickets, because at a past Big Blue Madness, he had to sit in the upper rafters of Rupp Arena. This year, he made sure to set up his tent shortly after the line was released.

Kevin Franklin, captain of Support Services for UK Police, was one of the officers supervising the crowd outside of Memorial Coliseum in the evening.

Franklin said police were at the sight to make sure fans do not get out of hand.

Tickets will be given out Saturday at 7 a.m., giving the fans outside two more full days to spend in their tents.

“Bring plenty of patience and come early,” Kellerhakes said.