Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart is hoping for fans in the stands this fall, but the specific percentage of Kroger Field’s maximum attendance remains to be seen.
What he is fairly certain of, however, is that it won’t be 100 percent full.
In a Zoom meeting with the Lexington Rotary Club on Thursday, Barnhart addressed UK’s upcoming sporting events in the fall and how the athletics department plans to work around and through the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the process, the UK AD said the capacity will likely be determined by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and the working officials in Frankfort. They will also look at the Kentucky Derby and see how they address attendance questions in the near future.
“In terms of capacity, I think a lot of that’s going to come out of Frankfort,” Barnhart said, via Josh Moore of the Herald-Leader. “We’re watching the Kentucky Derby very closely to see how the Derby is managed. That comes up on Sept. 5. Others states, you’ve heard 50 percent, you’ve heard different numbers, and social distancing.”
As much as he’d love to see a jam-packed Kroger Field this fall, Barnhart knows the chances of that happening are slim-to-none.
“I will say, I don’t know how we’ll ever be at 100 percent capacity or what we’ll call that,” Barnhart said. “We’ll have to figure something up. I would love to have fans in the stands. I don’t know where I fall on percentages, but I want as many people in there watching the Cats as we can get in there. So we’ll leave it at that. We’ve gotta step through football first before we figure out basketball. One step at a time.”
In terms of specific protocols during the ongoing workouts with teams throughout campus, Barnhart noted that football, for instance, is avoiding physical meetings within position groups to avoid potential breakouts that could wipe out complete units, among other procedures.
“If you have all of your quarterbacks in one meeting and one of them gets it, all of ‘em are gone,” Barnhart said. “So we’re separating quarterbacks in meetings. We’re separating offensive linemen. Guys in the same position (group) aren’t next to each other, they’re not coming into the facility at the same time. …
“It’s a really different dynamic. I think it’s hard to build a team through that. It’s really hard to stay connected, and those are things that the best teams are.”
For other notes and quotes from Barnhart’s meeting with Lexington’s Rotary Club, check out the Herald-Leader’s complete update here.