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Mitch Barnhart talks alcohol and more in long conversation with Kyle Tucker for ‘The Athletic’

Kyle Tucker continues to do fine Kyle Tucker work over at The Athletic and his latest contribution is worthy of a shout-out here on our pages because he went in-depth with Mitch Barnhart about several big topics. The biggest, of course, is the university’s decision to not sell alcohol at games and Barnhart’s explanation of that decision. Tucker pressed him on the issue in their hour-long conversation that you should absolutely read right here.

“It’s not a matter of trust. It’s a matter of numbers,” Barnhart said, when asked to explain why it appears the wealthy can be trusted to drink but the common fan can’t. “We’re talking about 60,000 people in a stadium and 20,000 in basketball. Proximity to our field with our young people. It’s about our ability to secure our facilities in a way that makes it safe for everybody, whatever that venue is, and making sure that everybody has an experience they want. I’m not sure serving alcohol makes everybody’s experience better. It isn’t a matter of trust, but it is a matter of our ability to give a good game-day experience to the majority.”

When asked if he botched the explanation — like myself and so many others believe he did — Barnhart said, “How I articulated that, if it came across not like everyone wanted, I apologize for that. But my goal in the whole thing was to say, “Hey, look, this is hard — these are hard decisions — and at the end of the day, there are responsibilities we have that we need to think about.”

The rest of the 5,000+ word Q&A with UK’s AD includes talk of Coach Cal’s lifetime contract, Barnhart’s new gig with the NCAA Tournament selection committee, Kyle Macy’s comments, facility upgrades and even the hiring of Billy Gillispie. There is a ton of good stuff for UK fans to digest, so take a couple minutes to read it all right here. (You will have to pay though.)

Back to the alcohol issue, Barnhart also said he will be monitoring the other schools in the SEC to see where it goes. And if you think the common fan is forgotten, those new chair-back seats throughout Kroger Field weren’t cheap and the upgrade reached the very top of the stadium.


Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

25 Comments for Mitch Barnhart talks alcohol and more in long conversation with Kyle Tucker for ‘The Athletic’

  1. Duuuuuude
    10:16 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

    I am OK with the university taking baby steps on the alcohol. I like beer like the next guy, but some drunk guy sitting behind me spilling bear on my head does not help my game day experience. Stadium seating, wifi more important in my opinion. Baby steps on the beer however.

  2. Mad Max
    10:22 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

    Want to see beer in the stands? Go to a Bengal game. Then you won’t want to see beer in our stands.

    Not a tea totaller by any stretch, but it only takes a small portion of morons to ruin the game day environment.

    • BlueFrank
      10:41 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

      This is it, 100%. I am all for having a drink at the game but there are always idiots who will ruin it.

      College football is one of the few sporting events where you can take your family without drunk people acting like fools.

    • Lexingtonyn
      6:14 am August 15, 2019 Permalink

      This! Thought the same exact thing. Took my son to a Sunday night Bengals’ game a few years ago. He was scared to death the entire game because of all the drunk idiots around us.

  3. UKinIN
    10:39 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

    BS. Don’t talk about reducing numbers being more safe when last year proved that it only takes one careless person to cause a tragedy.

    • StillBP
      10:57 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

      So if 1 drunk person can cause a tragedy, think about how many tragedies 30,000 drunk people can cause.

    • Kernel Sanders
      11:08 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

      StillBP, I don’t know when you last attended a UK FB games, but 30,000 drunk people per game is not a huge exaggeration of Commonwealth/Kroger crowds over the last 40 years or so. I don’t drink, so don’t really care, but to pretend like UK not selling alcohol is the equivalent of an alcohol free stadium environment is not accurate.

    • StillBP
      11:13 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

      It’s been about 3 years since I have attended a game. And nowhere in my comment did I elude to us having an alcohol free stadium. But sneaking it in at your own accord and being provided access by the school are different things. The school is responsible for serving when they sell. You are responsible when you sneak stuff in. Not too long ago a guy was over served at a Lexington bar, then proceeded to kill an entire family of 6 driving drunk. The bar, the owner, the bartender have to face responsibility for overserving. Why put that responsibility on the school?

    • StillBP
      11:18 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

      I’m not opposed to them selling alcohol, I know they sell it to the high rollers. But I understand not wanting to sell it to everyone. I’m not going to cry about it either way, which is more than a lot of people commenting on these posts can say.

  4. WKY Cat
    10:55 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

    He finally told the truth at the end. He wants to observe the other SEC schools before he makes a final decision.

    • StillBP
      10:59 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

      What’s wrong with seeing if it causes problems at other SEC schools before letting his school be the guinea pig?

    • ukjaybrat
      11:17 am August 12, 2019 Permalink


      because there are already schools selling alcohol and there hasn’t been any (many?) issues resulting from selling alcohol. this isn’t a new concept outside the SEC. so why do we need to see what the SEC does? we ALREADY have evidence of success, especially financially

    • StillBP
      11:31 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

      Selling alcohol at college football has become popular in the past few years, not a large percentage of schools have done so prior to the last 5 years or so. I don’t blame him for not wanting to hop on the wagon for what little financial gain there is. The financial benefits are miniscule

    • satcheluk
      9:55 pm August 12, 2019 Permalink

      There are more than 40 already. I used to buy beer at UM Hurricane games in the 90s.

  5. FakeDickeyV
    11:11 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

    What about the ugly uniforms?

    • magimae
      11:45 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

      yes, please make the checker board look go away

  6. Headhurts
    11:15 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

    People find a way to drink, smoke, before the game, at the game, after the game so 2 beers at the game not a game changer, that said , I don’t care if they ever sell suds.

  7. nocode96
    11:40 am August 12, 2019 Permalink

    All the chatter about this and both sides of the argument have many valid points. I’m very much on the fence on this one. I don’t drink, but I do use cannabis daily, so I’m far from a straight edge person. Maybe the best argument I’ve seen though from the anti selling it crowd is along the lines of “good, I don’t want to pay $9 for a miller lite anyway”. I also think @StillBP brought up a very solid argument earlier in this section about how the university becomes responsible if they sell booze, if you sneak it in and an issue arises, the university isn’t responsible. I’m not a lawyer, so I’m sure there’s a way to hold the university responsible for an issue even if you do sneak it in, but I’d have to think it would not be an easy case to prove. Idk, this is a tough one. Lots of pros and cons, but I’m okay with Mitch watching and learning from our SEC brethren who went ahead and allowed sales.

    • satcheluk
      9:57 pm August 12, 2019 Permalink

      I would trade beer for pot sales at games although it might be difficult to get the crowd hyped in the second half. And concession sales would probably rise.

  8. runningunnin.454
    12:38 pm August 12, 2019 Permalink

    Oh, good. I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to discuss alcohol at the games today.

  9. Cousins Fake Tooth
    1:41 pm August 12, 2019 Permalink

    Another thing in the state staying in the dark ages. Smfh

  10. Wilfred Smith
    2:33 pm August 12, 2019 Permalink

    Should have sections with alcohol, no alcohol, weed, coke, LSD, mushrooms…

  11. zoupman
    9:18 pm August 12, 2019 Permalink

    I’m not as concerned alcohol sales, as I am with the skyrocketing ticket prices. Also I don’t think the University treats students well. They keep making it harder and harder for them to get pathetic tickets.
    I use to go to 4 or 5 games a year. I now go to maybe 2. Easier to watch on TV.

  12. satcheluk
    9:53 pm August 12, 2019 Permalink

    I live in Tampa and often go to USF, Bucs and Rays games. Never had a problem with alcohol or other fans. Much ado about nothing. Negative Nancies, the sky will fall.