With attendance down, Kentucky will cut seating at Rupp Arena


In recent years the University of Kentucky toyed with the idea of building a new basketball arena. And at one point, it seemed likely that they would be able to do that. After all, Louisville plays in the state of the art Yum Center and Rupp Arena is 40 years old. But, those plans fell through and last year UK signed a lease that will keep them at Rupp through 2033.

Now, with attendance at Rupp declining, the university has announced plans to replace bleacher seats with chair seats. This plan will cut seating capacity from 23,500 to 20,500 and will increase prices for those seats.

Last year the Cats' average attendance was 21,875, down form 24,111 in 2010.

So what's up?

"I used to have season tickets," one long time UK fan told me. "But I gave them up. And the Louisville game was the first game I had watched all year this year. When you have a completely new team every year it's just hard to get attached to the players. And if you have no emotional attachment to the players you just tend to move on to something else."

Of course, one has to wonder whether increased prices for upper level seating will have a negative impact on attendance.

UK leads the country in attendance almost every year. But the changes will mean that Syracuse, Louisville, North Carolina, Tennessee and Brigham Young will all play in larger arenas than Kentucky this year. So, there's a chance they could lose that distinction.