Kentucky Wildcats football has seen a major resurgence in spring game attendance since Mark Stoops took over the head coaching duties in 2013.
The 2018 spring football game will be the second time in a row that the Wildcats will play on a Friday night as opposed to the traditional college football Saturday.
The game is scheduled for Friday, April 13th at 6:30 pm at Kroger Field.
The weeknight kick-off will allow Kentucky the opportunity to play in primetime on the SEC Network. So in my opinion, it is absolutely the right decision to retain that time slot.
Creating additional national exposure is a valuable asset for Mark Stoops recruiting efforts. The annual scrimmage gives the casual fan who may not get a chance to attend a regular season game the perfect opportunity to watch the Cats.
A record 50,381 fans attended the 2013 spring game to introduce the Stoops era. Though attendance has not reached near 50,000 since then, overall numbers have remained strong under Stoops.
Last year, there were not reliable figures to go on, but it was stated that 37,172 total tickets were distributed. It was estimated that around 25,000 fans were actually inside Kroger Field for the 2017 game.
In comparison, here are the top 15 reported attendance rankings for spring games last year, as reported by Gridironnow.com:
1. Ohio State: 80,134
2. Nebraska: 78,312
3. Alabama: 74,326
4. Penn State: estimated 71,000
5. Georgia: 66,133
6. Clemson: over 60,000 – a school record
7. Michigan: 57,418
8. Florida: estimated 48,000
9. Auburn: 46,331
10. Oklahoma: 43,723
11. Oregon: 36,821
12. LSU: estimated 35,000
12. Tennessee: estimated 35,000
13. Florida State: 26,649
14. Michigan State: estimated 25,000
15. Texas A&M: nearly 21,000
Kentucky: 37,172 (not official attendance, but that’s how many tickets were distributed)
Keep in mind these numbers are self reported and likely have some inflation. Still, there is no surprise to see the traditional powerhouses like Ohio State and Alabama near the top. 4 of the top 10 schools represented are from the SEC.
Attendance for spring games can be a fairly accurate gauge to the engagement of a fan base. It will be interesting to see how Kentucky fans react this year after the disappointing bowl loss in 2017.
Benny Snell transforming in to one of the top running backs in the country no doubt will add some excitement to the preseason. Finishing last year with a winning record was a major step in the right direction.
This will be a crucial year for UK to sustain improvement and establish themselves as contenders in the SEC East.
Will Kentucky fans show up in numbers? What is your prediction for attendance?
In my opinion, the biggest factor will be weather. It has been a wild winter and spring is proving to be equally unpredictable. Ideally it will be warm and dry on April 13th.
My complete guess at an attendance prediction for 2018 is: 35,000
The Big Nation needs to come out and show Mark Stoops and the Cats some major support!
To get tickets:
- Online through ticketmaster.com (tickets are free but online orders include a small service charge)
- In person at the Joe Craft Center ticket office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- By phone through ticketmaster at 800-745-3000
- In person the day of the game