Sports are beginning to make a return to playing since everything was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic with the MLB and NBA set to make their return late July.
Both of those leagues will be played without fans in attendance but last week, Churchill Downs announced that they would be having fans in attendance for the Kentucky Derby that is scheduled to happen on September 5th. That is the first major sporting event to announce that fans will be in attendance since the outbreak started.
Kentucky Sports Radio noted that Monday morning during cheerleading head coach Ryan Martin O’Connor’s introductory press conference on Zoom, UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart talked about the possibility of fans being in attendance for the season opener for Kentucky football which takes place two days before the Derby.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Barnhart said no decision has been made regarding fans being in Kroger Field week 1.
“We’re working our way through all those details,” Barnhart said during the Zoom press conference. “I think there’s going to be clearly conversations as it relates to activities in our state. There’s clearly conversations that will take place as it relates to activities in our league. We’ve got to combine all these pieces of information and pull them together in a spot where it’s best for the University of Kentucky and our fanbase. We’re not there yet.”
The Kentucky football team has already completed their stages for returning to campus for voluntary workouts. As of Sunday, the basketball team has started doing the same with their screening process going on this week. However, as we start to move into July and August the university is shifting from “return to activities” to “return to play.”
“That’s encouraging to me that we will have opportunities to bring our people back together but that’s one component and one piece in return to play, and I’ve said it publicly before, there’s a difference between return to activity and a return to play. We focused initially on return to activity. We’re still working on that, but we’re also turning our attention more closely as we get closer to certain dates that we have in front of us to return to play.”
Barnhart did note that the fact that fans will be in attendance for the Kentucky Derby is a promising sign for all sports moving forward.
No one knows where we will be in a couple months when it is time for the season to start but hopefully we will be in a position where the BBN can fill Kroger Field for what will no doubt be an exciting 2020 season.