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Excitement builds as UK football fans tailgate day ahead of season opener

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Posted at 4:16 PM, Sep 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-02 18:17:31-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — As the new college football season begins at Kroger Field, it was apparent fans were leaving nothing to chance. Hundreds of tailgate party tent stakes had already been pitched. Others were about to be shoved into the ground.

“We got here at 9:30 this morning and we’re not allowed to tape off (the area) until 12,” said UK fan Brandon Smither. Smither is part of a large group of Kentucky fans who’ve been tailgating in the parking lots together for years.

“We’ll have some good food, some good drinks, and some good fellowship,” he said.

The start of a new football season is always highly anticipated. The season is short, thus the off-season is long and the entire day revolves around the game.

“I’ll get here around 9 a.m.,” said Tim Sawyer. “It’s an event,” he said of his all-day tailgate parties during the season. Tomorrow’s game against Miami (OH) kicks off at 7 p.m.

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The University of Kentucky’s football program, which dates back to 1892, has had exactly four 10-win seasons. But two of those have come in the last four years, which leaves fans with a feeling of optimism usually reserved around here for the basketball team.

“This coach here, Stoops, he’s brought excitement to it. A whole lot,” said James King, a fan and former UK marching band member.

“This is probably the most excitement around the start of a season that I’ve ever seen,” Sawyer added.

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The Wildcats enter the season with lofty expectations, thanks in large part to the guy under center. Some believe Will Levis could be the first quarterback selected in next April’s NFL draft. So the heightened level of enthusiasm isn’t misplaced.

The stadium experience should also be even better. When fans begin filing in tomorrow when the gates open at 5 p.m., they will notice the two new video boards above either endzone.

“We’re excited to show them off to everyone,” said Associate Athletics Director Nate Schwake.

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Schwake said the final numbers aren’t in yet, but they’re expecting the new boards to cost right around $5 million.

“The football program has been great with Coach Stoops and the staff, and everybody in the department. And the fans have poured into this, and we’re in this spot and it’s great to be here,” Schwake added.

The fans who’ve already staked out, and claimed Saturday’s party locations, would agree.