UK officials reflect on week one of fans being back in Kroger Field

Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 6:02 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Nearly 50,000 UK football fans packed Kroger Field over the weekend for the home opener. It was one of the largest single gatherings in the state since the start of the pandemic.

UK did not require proof of vaccinations and did not require masks in the stands for unvaccinated people, but there were some COVID requirements.

In 2020 Kroger Field limited capacity to 20 percent. So having fans back this past weekend was a big deal, and it also saw some restrictions that not everyone followed.

Before the next UK football game, there will be a meeting about the policies in place. UK spokesperson Jay Blanton said this meeting happened every week, even before the pandemic.

“We got a large team in athletics. Our emergency operations officials, other folks who are involved in those game day operations,” Blanton said. “They are meeting throughout the week to talk about all these issues and COVID is certainly part of that.”

This year saw electronic tickets and masks required for those who are unvaccinated. They also asked anyone indoors to wear a mask, but members of our news team who were at the game said that didn’t happen. Blanton said they did have people looking for that.

“We’ve got monitors in place throughout the stadium. That’s what they are there for, to help with those sorts of compliance issues,” Blanton said.

Coach Mark Stoops has asked for a sellout for this week’s game against Missouri, meaning more crowds and potentially more of a chance to spread a virus. So far, there are no plans to make any changes to the current policies.

“We’re trying to adopt the best practices that are out there in terms of our protocols and processes for COVID,” Blanton said. “We think we’ve done a good job with that. There’s no perfect system. There’s no system that completely eliminates risk but we try to mitigate and minimize risk as much as possible.”

Because of football games resuming, the COVID testing site that was located at Kroger Field was moved to a site nearby on College Way. Because of traffic, that site will be closed on gamedays.

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