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July 27, 2012Student season ticket sales for Kentucky football are down more than 50 percent compared to at the end of July 2011, according to information obtained by Cats Illustrated by an open records request.
There were 35,716 total season tickets sold as of Wednesday afternoon. Of those, 2,082 were student season tickets and 33,634 were non-student season tickets. The student sales are a 53 percent drop from the 4,402 student season tickets sold through the end of July last year.
The precipitous drop of student tickets is part of a larger overall drop. Season ticket sales through Wednesday were 19.4 percent behind where they were at the end of July 2011, according to the records request, which was filed Wednesday.
Non-student season ticket sales were down 15.6 percent. At this time a year ago, there were 39,889 non-student season tickets sold and 44,291 total season tickets sold.
There were 6,274 student season tickets sold by July 31, 2009 and 7,025 by that date in 2010, but only 4,402 sold by July 31 a year ago and only 2,082 sold as of Wednesday for this season. Only 6,500 student season tickets are available this year, according to UK's website.
That's a drop of more than 70 percent from this time in 2010, and more than 67 percent from this time in 2009. Student tickets for 2011 and 2012 went on sale in mid-July, but they could be preordered in spring in previous years.
There were 54,995 total season tickets sold through the end of July 2009, the final season former UK head coach Rich Brooks coached the team. That puts season ticket sales for this year just more than 35 percent behind those numbers.
Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips implored fans to stick with his team in an impassioned speech at the football kickoff luncheon on Friday.
"These players come to UK because of you, the fans," he said. "We're out there selling you. We sell the fact that since the expansion of Commonwealth Stadium, we've had 11 years in the top 25 for attendance. We're selling you. We're selling the fans."
Attendance at Commonwealth Stadium averaged 60,007 last year. A crowd of 68,170, the largest home crowd of the season, saw the Wildcats lose to Louisville on Sept. 17. Capacity at Commonwealth Stadium is 67,942.
Phillips became choked up at times while speaking on Friday about the importance of fan support.
"Get behind this team," he said. "It's your team. We're selling you, the fans. Don't do it for Joker Phillips. I don't care how you feel about Joker Phillips or the staff. Do it for these young men that have agreed to come here to represent you and agreed to represent you the right way."
A story on Friday in The (Lexington) Herald-Leader indicated season ticket sales were down 27 percent compared to the total sold before the season opener last year.
Season ticket sales through the end of July by season
2009 Student: 6,274 Regular: 48,721 Total: 54,995
2010 Student: 7,025 Regular: 43,813 Total: 50,838
2011 Student: 4,402 Regular: 39,889 Total: 44,291
2012* Student: 2,082 Regular: 33,634 Total: 35,716
*Numbers through Wednesday, July 25