When Coach Cal announced plans for a charity alumni game on September 15th a few weeks ago on KSR, the first question most of us had was “When do tickets go on sale?”. The second question was “Isn’t that the same day as the Kentucky/Western Kentucky football game?” The athletic department quickly issued a release with the 2 p.m. tip off time in hopes of encouraging fans to make the day a double header of Kentucky sports; an afternoon of Kentucky basketball followed by an evening of Kentucky football. Sounds nice, right? But, even though the games are spaced pretty far apart, will the chance to see an all-star cast of NBA talent keep people away from Commonwealth Stadium?
Let’s look at both sides:
YES: Many are arguing that Cal could have done the charity game on any day and raise a ton of money…why mess with football Saturdays? Sure, Cal and the basketball team will encourage fans to head over to Commonwealth after the charity game for some quick tailgating before kickoff, but how many fans will be up for part two of the double header? Even though it’s just an exhibition for charity, the alumni game will greatly overshadow the football game, which is kind of a bummer when you consider the dwindling support for the football program this season.
NO: The doubleheader is just another reason for out-of-town fans to make the trek to Lexington, yours truly included. Yes, it will be a long day, but what more could you ask for? You get to see the best of Kentucky basketball and football in one day, with some tailgating in between. And that’s not even mentioning the possibility of seeing some of your favorite former Cats pop up at a tailgate or two (I hear Boogie kills it at cornhole). Playing against an opponent we may actually be favored to beat, the football game could be the perfect ending to an awesome day of Kentucky sports.
SOLUTION: How can the athletic department ensure fans attend both events?
1) Promote the heck out of both. Tickets go on sale for the Alumni Game on Friday morning. Tickets for the Western Kentucky game are already on sale. Is there a way to work out a combo deal for fans who want to buy both? Half off a football ticket with each alumni ticket purchased? Surely the football team would be in favor of this.
2) Have Cal and the players mention the football game throughout the alumni game. I can see it now: after a particularly powerful block, DeMarcus Cousins runs over to the announcer’s table, takes the mic, and says “I’m coming for you next, Big Red.”
3) Shuttle fans to the football game after the alumni game wraps up. This should be a no-brainer. LexTran already offers a shuttle from downtown to Commonwealth, but it should be free for those who attended the alumni game. Even better? Have Cal and the team take the first bus over.
What about you? Are you planning to go to the alumni game, football game, or both? Why?