LEX18 — Head Coach Mark Stoops tells LEX18 News and BBN Tonight the Kentucky football team will not host an official Spring Game this year. The decision was made due to the program's partnership with UK Healthcare, which is using Kroger Field as the state's largest COVID-19 testing and vaccination site.
Coach Stoops sat down for an exclusive, one-on-one interview with LEX18's Eli Gehn on this evening's edition of BBN Tonight, where he first discussed the cancellation of the spring game.
"Shout-out to the people that are testing and giving the vaccines - I went through there, it's unbelievable smooth and I thank them for their service," Stoops said in the interview. "It's with good reason we're not having a spring game this year."
UK Athletics has played a crucial role in the university’s efforts to facilitate medical services in the community. In April, the organization transformed Nutter Field House into a field hospital as the state anticipated a rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Now, Kroger Field operates as the largest vaccination clinic in the state, allowing UK to administer nearly 400 shots per hour and nearly 4,000 shots each day, according to the university.
“It’s been incredible to see our university and the state come together in the face of this pandemic, and I’m proud that UK Athletics could be part of this effort,” UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said in a recent press release. “Even during a time of such uncertainty, our university continues to offer a future of promise for our students and our state.”
"We have a great relationship with UK Healthcare," Stoops continued. "I've been heavily involved, along with Chantel, with the Children's Hospital for so long. They're wonderful in so many ways, and again we appreciate what they're doing. Being there on the frontlines and dealing with people that are sick and also trying to prevent it with the vaccines, so we thank them."
Even though members of the Big Blue Nation will not have a spring game to attend this year, Coach Stoops is hopeful they will be able to cheer on the Cats in person this fall.
"I'll tell you this - I do anticipate having some fans in the stadium [this] year. I'm really excited to see the fans back in Kroger Field. We need them; we feel the energy," Stoops told BBN Tonight. "Looking forward to next year and hopefully having fans in the stadium. I have no idea what that's going to look like, I just hope we have some fans in there."
UK has not released any official plans regarding fan attendance at football games this fall at this time, but season tickets are on sale now. The first game of the 2021 season is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 4 against the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
You can watch our full conversation with Coach Stoops on BBNTonight.com