With the new college football season approaching, the focus should be one what the 2019 Kentucky Wildcats can do after a breakthrough 10-win season.
However, the biggest talking point in recent weeks has been Mitch Barnhart’s decision to not allow alcohol sales at UK events for 2019-20 calendar year. While not allowing alcohol sales at all is a reasonable decision, letting people in premium seats have it but keeping it away from the general public isn’t the greatest look, and Barnhart did himself no favors with his initial explanation of the decision.
But in a recent interview with Kyle Tucker for The Athletic, Barnhart offered a different explanation on the differing alcohol sales at Kroger Field and Rupp Arena.
“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.”
What you can gather from just this simple quote is that Mitch initially starts off with the proximity to the field. I interpret this as he’s simply afraid that someone might have a little too much, and attempt to rush the field or court while play is still happening.
If that truly is the case, then would people in upper sections, not near the field, be able to purchase and consume alcohol? They aren’t close to the field of play after all.
Barnhart then says it’s all about the fan experience. I agree that some people can ruin a good time or a good game if they cannot properly handle their alcohol, but again, the majority of people in Kroger Field have already been out tailgating and consuming alcohol, so that really has little effect.
What I simply wish Mitch Barnhart would do, is come out and say is that rich people are able to drink because they donate money, or they pay to be a part of the K Club, or they’re big boosters, etc. We all know it’s the real truth to why wealthy fans are able to buy alcohol in the stadium and the common fan, like you and me, aren’t able to.
Barnhart has still yet to provide a valid reasoning for no alcohol sales, and “proximity to the field” is not better. If he truly means that, then he’s basically calling our fans savages who cannot handle their alcohol compared to other schools around the country, and SEC schools such as LSU, Texas A&M and Missouri.
If LSU and Texas A&M, who constantly fill up 90,000 plus capacity stadiums, have no worries about fans rushing the field during play because they have had too much, but Kentucky, who averages around 50-55,000 fans a game is worried someone might, then Kroger Field should consider a serious change to their security.
All of this seems like just a scapegoat for Mitch Barnhart to avoid giving the truth to the average fans who attend games. Do we like the truth that the rich get more exclusive deals at Kroger Field?
Absolutely not. But if Mitch just came out and said it, it would be less insulting than being treated like a peasant who cannot handle alcoholic beverages.