UK football season ticket prices increasing

Courtesy of the Courier-Journal:

UK will also again offer two discount packages. Season-ticket packages in sections 201-203 and 209-211 that do not require K-Fund donations will cost $240. The pocket pass package, which includes a mobile ticket to all seven home games but does not include the same seat for each game, will cost $205 while supplies last.

K-Fund donations for various packages range from $100 to $2,500. Season tickets in sections 204-208 and 221-231 cost $280 but do not require a K-Fund donation. You can see full ticket pricing information for each area of the stadium at  UKFootballTix.com.

Unlike previous years, fans wishing to purchase season tickets for the first time will be able to do so Wednesday when renewals open for existing season-ticket holders. Seats that were purchased last season will remain reserved for renewal until at least April 19.

The season-ticket price increase comes after UK reached its first bowl games since 2010 with a 7-6 season in 2016, but Ramsey said the improved performance on the field was not the primary impetus for the hike. UK spent $120 million to renovated Commonwealth Stadium before the 2015 season then added additional bench-back seating throughout much of the lower bowl for the 2016 season.

“Now we’re making the decision to go up to $310 just based on the facility growth and the growth in supporting the student athletes,” Ramsey said. “Season tickets are kind of the backbone of what we do, so this was a chance for us to keep up in that area.”

The 2016 season marked just the second time since UK expanded Commonwealth Stadium in 1999 that the school had announced fewer than 55,000 fans per game, and those figures are generally described as tickets distributed, not actual fans in the stands. Actual crowds were sometimes far smaller than the announced attendance.

UK announced fewer than 52,000 fans at four of its seven home games last season. Twice the school announced fewer than 50,000 fans, including the home finale win over Austin Peay (48,948) when the Wildcats clinched the bowl berth. UK (89.2 percent) was one of three SEC programs to average less than 90 percent of its home stadium capacity, joining Vanderbilt (77.4) and Missouri (73.4)

While UK’s 33-18 loss to Georgia Tech in the TaxSlayer Bowl may have curbed some of the momentum in fan support achieved with the bowl berth and upset of arch-rival Louisville in the regular-season finale, UK fans did dominate the announced crowd of 43,102 at the bowl game in Jacksonville, Florida.

UK administrators will hope that support helps recreate a similar boost in ticket sales as the one the program enjoyed after Rich Brooks and his team broke through a seven-year bowl drought in 2006.

Per-game ticket revenue increased by 28.7 percent from the 2006 to 2007 seasons, according to data provided to the Courier-Journal through an open records request. UK announced average crowds of at least 66,000 fans per game in each of the four bowl seasons from 2007 to 2010.

After the TaxSlayer Bowl, UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart went out of his way to thank fans for their support.

“It was big time,” Barnhart said. “I was really appreciative of the fans, and they were tremendous. I don’t ever want to lose sight of that. I know that they’ve got choices to make with the things that they do with their discretionary time and discretionary dollars. For them to come down here and support us like that is so important.

“We wanted to give them a better game today than we did, but I hope they’ll appreciate where this program has grown and the things that we’re going to try to do to go forward. So, we need to start next year with everybody in the stands and having at it.”

Email Jon Hale at jahale@courier-journal.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonHale_CJ