November 26th, 2013 02:00 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Kentucky
Tags: Commonwealth Stadium, Southeastern Conference, UK, VIP
File this one under perfect timing.
Last week, we wrote the following: “How long before and SEC school decides to replace 10,000 to 20,000 seats with larger, more opulent skyboxes?”
Well, it ain’t 10- to 20-thousand, but the University of Kentucky will be dropping the seating capacity at Commonwealth Stadium from 67,000 to 61,000 in time for the 2015 season. According to The Lexington Herald-Leader, officials discussing the refurbishing of the stadium yesterday said that “the goal is to create better seats, not more seats.”
Architect Gerardo Prado says Wildcat AD Mitch Barnhart wants the 40-year-old stadium to be a one-of-a-kind venue:
“Classy and cool were the exact words used by Mitch and that’s what we’re trying to strive for here. We don’t want this to look like any other stadium in the Southeastern Conference.”
The $110 million renovation project should “change the personality of the stadium,” Barnhart said. “It’s hopefully more intimate, hopefully, it is more fan friendly.”
“We’ve got to create an environment that’s fun for people to want to come to,” the AD added. “And I think this is the right size for us.”
In addition to going smaller, the number of tickets offered to students will decline. The student section will surround a new glass-front recruiting room — long a UK need — with a capacity of 200 people. That recruiting room will also have its own patio, which is unique to Commonwealth Stadium.
The south side of the stadium will feature a new pressbox sitting on top of 28 suites. Below the suites will be club seats and loge/VIP seating. Alcohol will be available to those buying premium seats.
* UK will reticket the entire stadium and it will have a new seating plan.
* About 25,000 seats will be available with a donation of $100 or less to the UK athletic program.
* There will be wider concourses, new concession stands and new restrooms for everyone, not just the folks in the suites, club seats and loge/VIP areas.
* In a fantastic touch, areas of the stadium will feature reclaimed Kentucky barn wood and Kentucky limestone to add a “little bit of Kentucky flavor.” Love that idea.
You can expect schools to continue to move in this direction as an increasing number of fans choose to stay home with their HD sets rather than drive to the ol’ ballyard. Kentucky is moving in the right direction and the school’s plans look like a major, major upgrade for a stadium that currently has very little personality.
But rest assured some school down the line will take a more drastic dive into the newer-but-smaller stadium pool. Six-thousand seats today? It’ll be 10- to 20-thousand at some point.
Mark it down. (Or — since this is a Kentucky story — Maker’s Mark it down.)
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