Skip to content

Will Rupp renovation split Kentucky’s Big Blue Nation?

Jul 6, 2013, 10:34 PM EDT

Ashley Judd AP

You’ve seen it a hundred times on TV: Ashley Judd sitting smack in the middle of a sea of blue, mixing with the rest of Big Blue Nation as they watch their favorite team play in Rupp Arena. She’s not the only one. Every luminary who’s ever come to bask in the glow of John Calipari’s maximum cool factor has been right out there with the hoi polloi as well.

Rupp has no artificial divisions when it comes to fan seating. You’re either with BBN, or you’re not.

That could all change with the proposed renovation of the Lexington arena. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the University of Kentucky sent out surveys last week, asking if fans would be interested in buying luxury boxes and exclusive club memberships as part of the fundraising effort that will precede any renovation. The notion of moneyed Wildcats fans eating gourmet food in the skyboxes has at least one fan feeling left out.

[Jeanette] Hislope, a friendly, out-going woman who works in customer service, worries about what might be lost in a renovated — and stratified — Rupp Arena.

“I always bleed blue,” she said before adding, “I think this will make me opt out of the Big Blue Nation if they mess with Rupp Arena.”

Opt out of BBN? Is that even possible?

“Very few things are deal-breakers,” Hislope said. “That’s one. I would never say a word against the Big Blue Nation. But I’d be done. That will ruin what I consider the heart and soul of Rupp Arena.”

The truth is, this kind of thing happens. A few years back, Kansas fans went through a painful re-allocation of seating wealth, when a points system — heavily based on the applicant’s donor profile — was put into place for season-ticket holders. Long-time fans who had held courtside tickets for decades were moved to make room for people who had bigger wallets to sit on. The College World Series left populist Rosenblatt Stadium and moved into a skybox-laden new park recently, as well.

A few fans might have given up when they realized their love wasn’t worth as much as cold, hard cash, but fan fervor runs bone-deep at a place like Kentucky. In case a quick look around the realignment-ravaged landscape of college sports hasn’t made this absolutely clear: money talks.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Latest Posts
  1. St. John’s lands commitment from Missouri State fifth-year transfer

    Apr 21, 2015, 10:07 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    St. John’s has added some much-needed backcourt depth.

  2. Two will transfer out of BYU

    Apr 20, 2015, 10:45 PM EDT

    Saint Marys Cal BYU Basketball AP

    BYU is losing two reserve players to transfer.

  3. Iowa lands a strong-shooting junior college forward

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    Fran McCaffery AP

    Iowa landed a junior college forward to close out a six-man class.

  4. Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg up and moving after heart surgery (VIDEO)

    Apr 20, 2015, 8:45 PM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg is up and on his feet after heart surgery.

  5. North Carolina’s Marcus Paige undergoes arthroscopic ankle surgery

    Apr 20, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    North Carolina star point guard Marcus Paige had successful surgery

  6. All-MAC guard Shannon Evans to transfer from Buffalo; is athletics director Danny White at fault?

    Apr 20, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Shannon Evans is leaving Buffalo. Is athletic director Danny White the reason why?

  7. Rhode Island lands perimeter help in graduate transfer from Towson

    Apr 20, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Rhode Island added some immediate help shooting the ball.

  8. South Florida lands a graduate transfer from Gonzaga

    Apr 20, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Angel Nunez AP

    South Florida continues to hit the transfer market hard.

  9. Reports: Long Beach State lands talented back court transfer

    Apr 20, 2015, 3:17 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Evan Payne averaged 18.0 points for LMU last season.

  10. Memphis lands a commitment from talented PG transfer

    Apr 20, 2015, 2:47 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Tarrant will step into the starting point guard role for Memphis.

  11. Kyle Wiltjer to return to Gonzaga for his senior season

    Apr 20, 2015, 2:38 PM EDT

    Kyle Wiltjer (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Wiltjer will likely be a preseason all-american.

  12. Greek Freak 2.0? A first look at Kostas Antetokounmpo (VIDEO)

    Apr 20, 2015, 1:58 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The younger Greek Freak is hitting the AAU circuit this summer.

  13. Illegal fishing, driving infraction lead to arrest for Mississippi State player

    Apr 20, 2015, 12:52 PM EDT

    Mississippi State athletics Mississippi State athletics

    This is the leader in the clubhouse for the weirdest offseason story.

  14. LSU lands top 50 Class of 2015 guard Brandon Sampson

    Apr 20, 2015, 11:49 AM EDT

    (Under Armour) (Under Armour)

    Sampson gives LSU one of the best recruiting classes in the country.

  15. 2015 College Basketball Updated Early Entry List

    Apr 20, 2015, 9:05 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Who’s going pro? Who’s returning to school? Who are we still waiting to hear from?

  16. Five-star forward sets date for college announcement

    Apr 19, 2015, 11:15 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Brandon Ingram’s down to six schools: North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and NC State.

  17. Central Michigan lands former Youngstown State guard

    Apr 19, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Marcus Keene averaged 15.6 ppg last season, and with Chris Fowler entering his senior season this is a good pickup for the Chippewas.