After last season’s Crosstown Throwdown, the UC vs. Xavier rivalry was in jeopardy of ending after the contract between the two schools expired this year. A hostile Xavier crowd and immature players on both sides led to last year’s brawl, so the two schools got together and worked out a neutral court agreement at US Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati. The game will be played for two seasons on the Cincinnati riverfront, and then the series will be re-evaluated by administrators and possibly returned to its former home-and-away format. The change of venue will create a less hostile environment and also allows each school to sell more tickets and make more money in a larger building.
Thankfully, the UK-IU game last year had no player altercations, but was an extremely unpleasant experience for anyone wearing blue in the crowd. Assembly Hall was not a pleasant experience for Kentucky fans last year, not because of the loss, but because of the taunting, trampling, foul langauge, slurs etc. Both schools in Cincinnati agreed that there needed to be a change, but Indiana has failed to acknowledge all along that the fan behavior on December 10th was unacceptable. Fan safety may have only been one of many reasons why UK wanted to switch the game to a neutral site (along with revenue, preparing for NCAA-like atmosphere), but it could very well have played a part in not wanting to return to Bloomington. It’s unfortunate that IU and UK could not have also worked out a necessary change in the format of the game as Cincinnati and Xavier were able to do.