After years of tradition at Cliff Hagan Stadium, the tailgating scene for University of Kentucky baseball is having to undergo adjustments at the new Kentucky Proud Park.
Completed last fall, Kentucky Proud Park debuted for Wildcats regular-season baseball last week. One of the noticeable changes for some students as the facility opened was the tailgating scene, which will be much different than it was at Kentucky Proud Park’s predecessor, Cliff Hagan Stadium.
For years, the tradition of tailgating at Cliff Hagan Stadium took place in an area named the Cliff–which was located just beyond the outfield wall and offered a view of the action. Such an arrangement cannot be easily copied at Kentucky Proud Park, as the ballpark features a 360-degree concourse within its gates and no similar areas outside the facility for tailgating. This has prompted some concerns among the student body, but Kentucky indicates that it is looking for ways for the baseball tailgating scene to evolve. Registered student organizations can reserve tailgating spots in nearby parking lots, but Kentucky officials expect that other solutions could emerge as Kentucky Proud Park’s inaugural season progresses. More from The Kentucky Kernel:
Some at the tailgate were upset over UK’s move toward last fall’s Gameday Zone—a fenced-in tailgating zone specifically for UK students where alcohol was limited. The zone was introduced by UK the university better enforce its alcohol policy by pushing on-campus student tailgating into an enclosed and more easily monitored setting. The Gameday Zone saw relatively low attendance for much of the year.
[UK Athletics spokesperson Guy] Ramsey said that a move toward a similar tailgating zone for baseball games was “not imminent” and added that other officials on campus outside of UK Athletics would make that decision.
Student feedback will be crucial to making sure that the baseball tailgating experience is appealing to students, Ramsey said. Baseball tailgating zones could look much different by the end of the season.
“I think the idea is that we see how things shake out at Kentucky Proud Park and see where it goes from there,” Ramsey said. “It’ll be a little while before biggest games, best weather and largest crowds.”
Whenever a college ballpark undergoes a major renovation or is replaced, it is not uncommon for some traditions to be altered or displaced as a result. In Kentucky’s case, the baseball program is moving to a much more modern facility after playing at Cliff Hagan Stadium since 1969. The tailgating tradition at Cliff Hagan Stadium is one that cannot easily be copied at its successor, but perhaps Kentucky and its students will be able to generate new traditions over time.
Rendering courtesy University of Kentucky.
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