The University of Kentucky’s first-ever Thursday night football game is expected to have a major impact on Lexington.
The game against the Auburn Tigers, which kicks off at 7 pm on October 15 at Commonwealth Stadium, is likely to cause a variety of traffic and logistical issues.
Impact on Campus & Surrounding Areas
UK will be requiring students parked in restricted zones of Commonwealth Stadium to move to an off-campus location by 7 am on Thursday.
Students must move to locations such as Southland Christian Church, Lexmark, and the Legends’ Ballpark, although some of these are miles away from campus.
“I have a test this Thursday around game time and I’m pretty worried I won’t be able to find a spot,” said Madi Moynahan, an ISC major. “I commute to class everyday and it’s already hard to find parking as is.”
Critics claim that this move highlights UK administration’s placement of athletics over academics. In a letter to the editor of the Herald-Leader, UK History Professor James Albisetti argues that football fans, not students, should be the ones forced to commute, and that there is no reason for the parking lot of Commonwealth to be emptied out more than three hours before the game.
“If University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto and his minions truly believed the often-repeated mantra ‘students come first,’ on Thursday it would be the football fans — not the students — who are directed to remote parking facilities and forced to use shuttle buses of unproven reliability,” Albisetti said.
UK Spokesman Jay Blanton said the university has planned over a year in advance to get things to flow smoothly for the game and the national exposure will ultimately trump any inconvenience.
“The idea to be able to showcase the $1.8 billion transformation that’s happening on campus — almost all of it focused on academics, research and students — is a good opportunity,” Blanton said. “And we’ve gone to significant lengths as an institution to try to minimize any disruption to the normal course of business.”
Students won’t be the only ones re-directed to alternate parking.
Starting at 3:30 am on Thursday, UK HealthCare employees who usually park near the stadium will have to find alternate parking and shuttle to work. This is so that people with game day parking permits may set up their tailgates on campus as early as 8 am.
“I’m lucky because I live on campus and (the parking changes) don’t affect me, but I know it’ll be frustrating for people who work that night and need to get to the hospital,” said Eleanore Brown, a nursing student at UK. “It doesn’t seem right that the hospital’s parking garage is being used for tailgaters.”
Bluegrass Community & Technical College, whose campus is on Cooper Drive, will be closing for fall break due to the game, and the Lexington Senior Center on Alumni Drive will be closed all day as well. KET, on Cooper Drive, also mandated a day of leave for their employees.
Parking and Traffic Info
Lexington Police expect significant congestion. Nicholasville Road will only have two lanes running both ways during afternoon rush hour, likely causing major delays. Alumni Drive between Nicholasville Rd and Tates Creek Rd will be restricted to game-day traffic. Tates Creek will not have any lanes closed, but delays are expected due to the sheer amount of traffic.
The following parking lots and garages will be closed for individuals without appropriate passes on October 15, starting at 7 am: Commonwealth Stadium Red, Blue, and Green lots; Orange Lot (on the corner of University and Alumni); Greg Page Overflow Lot; Soccer/Softball Complex Lots; Parking Structures 1 & 7 (University Drive and Sports Center Garages); Sports Center Lots; University Drive; the Ag North and Greenhouse Areas.
Individuals with parking passes are asked to have them hanging from their mirror prior to entering the stadium area. Parking in yards and on streets that are permit-only is prohibited.
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