Kentucky AD Barnhart discusses stadium renovations, fan experience at Media Day
University of Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart addressed the media for nearly 20 minutes Friday morning as part of the football program’s annual Media Day festivities at Commonwealth Stadium.
Among the topics Barnhart addressed were the ongoing renovations to Commonwealth Stadium, his expectations entering a new football season and Kentucky’s “BBN First” campaign to improve the fan experience in the Bluegrass.
Below are excerpts from Barnhart’s address Friday, as well as his Q&A with the media:
Barnhart on stadium renovations
You hear what’s going on outside. You can see what’s going on. We’ve got a lot of work to do. … It’s a massive project. Great undertaking to try to do some utility work and some steel work and get it all ready to go. Clean it up, play some games, continue construction.
At the end of this season, obviously, we’ll get into it hot and heavy in terms of shelling out the rest of the stadium. In that transition, there’s a lot going on, a lot of places we can’t get to, a lot of places we can’t park, and there’s going to be some consternation, and there’s going to be some angst a little bit in some places. Growth obviously can’t happen unless there’s some change in all that, and it’s hard. Sometimes that means we’ve got to move some folks and change some parking. … It may move some folks around a little bit. It may change a few of our seating structures a little bit, but at the end of the day, we’re going to have a better place to play football, a better place to represent the University of Kentucky, and I’m hoping we’ll have everybody’s patience and understanding.
We work our way through that, and we grow this thing the way we all want to.
On fan input and catering the fan experience to the “Big Blue Nation”
Four or five months ago, we launched BBN First, trying to give our fans an opportunity to tell us what they wanted and what they were looking for in areas of customer service, in areas of game day atmospheres and those kind of things. The responses were unbelievable. We had about 1,500 e-mails, where our fans jumped in the middle of conversations about what we’ve got going on on game day. It’s been really, really good. I‘m thankful that they’ve done that.
I would say, when you total it up, we had about 1,700 suggestions in some way, shape, or form. Some of those were a little repetitive in terms of same thoughts and same mindsets. A lot of them, music selection, in-game traditions, scores, video updates, from throughout the country, other areas, things like that.
We’ve made some progress. I think we’ve done – we’ve addressed some of those things. Some of those things won’t be able to be addressed until we get into the new stadium and we get that all done.
I would ask that our fans stay involved in the process. We absolutely want to continue to involve the fans in the process of what we’re doing on game day. And I think that you will see some things. Just to give you an example, My Old Kentucky Home, where do you want to see it? The input came back. They want to see it at the beginning of the game and at the end of the game, and we’ll continue to do that. That’s what the fans have asked. I’ve had a lot of feedback from time to time about what that should look like. That’s what the fans want, and that’s what we’re going to do.
It’s been good. So I’m thankful that everybody has been participating in that, and looking forward to continuing to work through BBN First we put in place.
On expectations entering year two under Mark Stoops
I think we want to continue to make progress. Everybody is going to look in terms of W’s and L’s. That’s the first place everybody goes. That’s a reasonable expectation. We all want to win. We want to see our program make progress. We have a lot of young guys on the field, a lot of freshmen and sophomores on the field, a lot of redshirt kids. I think you’ll see growth out of them.
We’ve always said it before, you’ll know progress when you see it. You’ll see us making less mistakes in certain areas, less penalties, less turnovers, getting more turnovers, creating a different environment for our team, moving the ball late in games, making adjustments and doing things needed to win some games. So hopefully we’ll do that.
Everyone wants to see it show up in W’s and L’s, and we would too. The goal is to get to postseason play. That’s always the goal in whatever we do. But I think we’ll all recognize progress when we see it. I would anticipate that.
I think we’ve got a good group of young, talented guys and a bunch of guys fighting for positions all across the board. This is as much competition for a position as I’ve seen since I’ve probably been at Kentucky. There’s depth in a lot of areas in terms of people. Now, who will come out of that to take the jobs is yet to be seen.