LEXINGTON, Ky. -- While University of Kentucky Head Football Coach Mark Stoops and his staff are working hard together with the Wildcat players to 'Change The Game' on the field this season, there are plenty of changes in store for fans attending games at Commonwealth Stadium, beginning with this Saturday's opener against the UT Martin Skyhawks.
To help spread the word, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto, was joined by Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and other city and university officials on Thursday at a news conference detailing those changes, several of which are directly related to the stadium construction and renovation project, which will be completed before the start of the 2015 season.
"We want to thank our fans for their loyal support of our football program and ask everyone for patience and flexibility this season," said Capilouto. "We are in the process of transforming UK football's longtime home into a beautiful new venue. With these exciting upgrades come changes to habits and routines, which means there will be challenges to work through, especially early in the season."
"Game days bring people together from all over Lexington and the state, and we want to make sure that everyone has an enjoyable and safe time," said Mayor Gray. "Let's respect campus neighbors and property as we cheer on the Wildcats."
Other speakers at the news conference included UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart, UK Student Government President Jake Ingram, and the respective police chiefs of the university and the city, Joe Monroe and Ronnie Bastin.
One of the biggest changes is that Gates 10 and 11 at the stadium will be closed due to construction, meaning all fans entering through the south side will use Gates 7, 9, 12 & 14. Additionally, tunnels leading to Sections 139 & 140 will be closed and the lower east concourse has narrowed, due to construction in the east end zone.
In addition to stadium construction, an ongoing flood mitigation project also is impacting game-day operations in areas near the stadium.
As for parking, many season-ticket holders were reassigned to new lots this offseason. Fans are encouraged to display their parking permit when they leave their homes, enabling traffic personnel to efficiently sort and direct vehicles approaching the complex.
While parking availability at or near the stadium on game days is reduced, UK Athletics, and numerous university and community partners have worked diligently to minimize the impact to loyal season ticket holders. In fact, all 2013 reserved parking permit holders were offered permits in the 2014 reassignment process. Additionally:
· Non-permit parking options in Parking Structures 2, 3 & 6 are still available and there will be an increase in the number of shuttles servicing these options
· Downtown parking (High Street, Transit Center on Vine, etc.) and shuttle services are also viable options
· Stadium seating capacity is slightly reduced for this year and future seasons
"Our collective purpose, with the support of numerous campus, local, state and national public safety agencies, is to provide a first-class guest experience in and around Commonwealth Stadium on game days," said Kevin Saal, senior associate athletics director for operations. "Safety and security are critical components of that experience. We urge the Big Blue Nation and our guests to arrive early and be aware of ongoing construction. Please be mindful of pedestrian & vehicle traffic entering and exiting the stadium pre- and post-game."