Even Bluer Fans? Kentucky President Bans Alcohol in Tailgating Spots

By Steve LeMaster

The first third of the 2012 season has been dismal for fans of the Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky is 1-3 and that includes a loss to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Fights broke out before and after Kentucky’s loss to in-state rival Western Kentucky and that has led to some changes in tailgating at home games.

Tailgating has always been a huge part of Kentucky home games, regardless of the Wildcats’ record. The experience is likely to change for several fans as Kentucky President Eli Capilouto has imposed an alcohol ban for non-reserved tailgating spots near Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. The ban also applies to DJs and bands, which have been mainstays at Kentucky home games.

On Thursday, in a campus email, Capilouto encouraged tailgating but in a “responsible fashion.”

Some Kentucky basketball fans were unruly this past spring when the Wildcats marched to a national championship. Small fires and gunfire that wounded one man was how a small minority of the Kentucky fanbase celebrated the Wildcats winning the basketball title.

Tailgating has been a part of fall on the University of Kentucky campus at football home games for decades. With Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina coming to town, Kentucky needs to return to the win column and perform well in front of a fanbase that has been losing strength in numbers throughout the season.

Kentucky is on pace to set its lowest home attendance mark since the late-1990s. After his team has dropped three of its first four games, Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips is fighting for his job. Last week, with former starter Morgan Newton filling in for injured starting quarterback Maxwell Smith, Kentucky struggled on the road at Florida. Smith is expected to play on Saturday when Kentucky hosts the undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks (4-0) in the first tailgate-restriction game inside Commonwealth Stadium.

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