John Calipari says if you have Rupp Arena tickets and cannot attend game then just give them to someone else

John Calipari and UK players are glad to have fans back at Rupp Arena. (Jeff Houchin/Nolan Media)

Kentucky basketball players got a taste of what Rupp Arena could be like this season with close to a capacity crowd of boisterous Wildcat fans. Kentucky overcame a first-half deficit to beat Ohio 77-59 and tonight will host Albany.

Coach John Calipari said again after Friday’s win that anyone who has tickets and cannot attend a game should give them to someone who can come.

“Call the local grade school and see if the principal wants to give them away. Again, I don’t blame anybody for not coming to the games because of COVID, because of the construction, and traffic, because now you can watch it on TV,” Calipari said.

He joked — I think — that UK has an “old crowd” of fans.

“If they’ve got to walk 200 yards to get in a door to get in the arena to walk another 100 yards, you would do it? I wouldn’t do it. I just know me. What if it rained? I’m not walking 200 yards to get in the building,” the UK coach said.

“So I get it (why fans don’t come). Here is my point: Give them away. This was a great environment for people to be in and for all of us, these kids and our – we’ve got the best fans in the country. Just don’t sit on the tickets. Give them back to the university. Maybe we’ll do something with different schools or give them out for awards. They’re bought already, so give them away.

Kentucky recently put five-game ticket packages on sale hoping that would attract fans to buy available tickets for select games.

Calipari said he understood fans don’t like “tune-up games” — he means games against overmatched opponents like the one tonight against Albany — even though he’s right about all major teams having them.

“Kentucky should play the Lakers and the Suns. Okay. But they’ve got packages now. So, if you want to go ….,” Calipari said.

The coach has also heard fans complain that rather than Friday night games maybe UK could play on Sunday.

“Here was the other thing. I think we need to play some Sunday games instead of Friday. You know what I’m saying?” Calipari said.

He even asked if there was “still football for high schools” on Friday nights. Come on Coach. Surely you know the high school football playoffs start about the same time UK begins playing basketball every Friday night.

However, his next reason for why fans might not be coming was really a stretch.

“Style of play maybe. They (fans) don’t like us to play this fast and press and shoot and do it. Come on,” Calipari said.

Come on indeed. Kentucky fans love fast-break basketball and have from the days Adolph Rupp started using it.

“Again, I don’t know, but if you get a chance to buy tickets and you can commit to saying I’ll buy them and I just want to make sure I can buy them every year because it will be like normal, we get through this COVID,” Calipari said.

“A little worried about the winter (with COVID). I keep hearing stuff. But what you saw tonight, you know. I’m proud of our fans. I always am. Always am. We got the best.”

Sixth-year senior guard Davion Mintz didn’t get to experience a typical Rupp Arena crowd last year. He liked what he saw and heard against Ohio. 

“It was super fun. I mean, just to be out there was like having like an extra player out there,” Mintz said.  “These people really care about us and we can feel the energy and it just goes straight out to the court.

“So I really appreciate all the fans that we have and come out. I mean, it’s all 40 minutes from the tip to finish so I appreciate you guys.”

4 Responses

  1. I live in PC home of Dantiea of UKs husband coached him Upward church Basket ball and little league husband a Vietnam Veteran passed away 2.5 years ago..caused my AO..4/6/2019…

  2. Empty seats due to ticket holders not using them is not a new problem with UK basketball. That issue continues to this day, and those who hold these unused tickets could be passed on to someone who not only would use them, but to someone who would appreciate the opportunity to attend a game. UK could have also addressed this issue years ago with a simple policy that they will resell any season ticket that has not been scanned as admitted to Rupp by 5 minutes prior to tipoff or if the ticket holder notifies the UK Ticket office by phone or email that the ticket will not be used to those fans waiting for them at Rupp Arena. This puts fannies in the seats, generates additional revenue for the program, and allows fans who are not so fortunate to have season tickets to attend games.

    This problem has persisted since Rupp opened, yet the University has never taken any steps to address this issue, and in my opinion they never will.

    The second issue is a newer one, seats in Rupp that have not been purchased at all. This was never a problem for the UK Basketball program UNTIL Calipari’s policies have diminished fan interest in the team by not recruiting any (of significance) Kentucky kids, and his ridiculous players’ first policy that makes following the team more difficult and less interesting to so many fans.

    This man has been a menace to this program, and this is just one way it manifests.

    And to those who wish I would just shut up about my dismay over Calipari, I will not do so until Mitch Barnhart intervenes on behalf of the fans and puts a stop to this madness. The UK program has been in a steady decline since 2015. For those excited that the current team is better than last year, since when has that been the standard? This team will lose double digit games and will not be a legitimate contender for the championship!!! That was the standard that fans held dear, UNTIL THIS MAN CAME HERE!!!!!

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