Two hours before tip off on Dec. 27, students lined outside the KFC Yum! Center to see the men’s basketball game between the Cards and Wildcats. The line stretched from the student gate to the sidewalk alongside Main St. and around the block to 2nd St.
At some point, however, the line turned into a large group of students crowded around the student gate. The tightly packed group was lively, yelling out Cards cheers, taking selfies in the crowd, and pushing as close as possible to the glass doors to get the best seats.
“I was at the U of L, UK game and was in line for over two hours,” said Ross Hofele, SGA executive vice president.
“I was expecting a line that large, so I showed up early. Students seemed to be getting upset around 1:00 pm – rightly so, with tip off at 2:00 pm some did not believe they would make it in the KFC Yum! Center on time.”
Erika Aemmer, the assistant ticket manager for U of L athletics, said that cluster around the door was unexpected.
“It seems like all of the students rushed the door at one time, whereas, obviously, it is supposed to be a single file line,” said Aemmer.”We were not really expecting it to get out of hand, but definitely we expected a line of students, similar to what they see at Duke and Carolina and those types of places.”
Hofele attributed the crowds to both the popularity of the game and the new ticketing policy.
“I believe we have a very passionate fan base and you couple that with one of the finest rivalry games in all of college basketball. There was no surprise to me to see students lining up as early as they did. The new ticketing policy could have influenced students getting to the game early, but not slow down the process to where some students missed tip off,” said Hofele.
The U of L v. UK game is one of the most popular games of the season, and there were no special accommodations made for fans who showed up early to the game.
“The doors do not open until 90 minutes prior,” said Aemmer. “That is for everybody.”
Aemmer says that the line did not prevent anyone from seeing the beginning of the game.
“Everyone got in, and I was actually at the gate right before tip time and the National Anthem, and everyone that had been in line was inside at that time.”
For popular games in the future, students can expect to see more crowd control at the student gate.
“We will have some police out there for the next couple of big games to make sure that it does not get out of hand,” said Aemmer.