Louisville bar changes anti-Wildcats policy for Saturday

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The countdown is on for Saturday when the Wildcats and Cardinals tip off in New Orleans in the Final Four.

In these final days leading up to the game, it's not just about houses divided, but even bars divided.

For Michael Kraft, it's a loyalty divided.

"I graduated from UK and I'm just meeting some friends up here to talk a little bit about the basketball game," Kraft told WAVE 3.

But the bigger conversation may be about his hat with the big "L" on it.

"I'm a UK alumnus but I live here in Louisville and I just really enjoy the program that Louisville had going right now," Kraft said.

School spirit isn't all that's being blurred this weekend.

In St. Matthews, Drake's bar bleeds both red and blue.

"I think this will be the only time in my life that I get to see Louisville and Kentucky play in the final four against each other," said bartender Lloyd Smith.

Drake's is cashing in on what may be a once in a lifetime opportunity, creating special beverages, and even a special atmosphere.

Blue beverages will be on tap in part of the bar that's designated as the UK part.

Red beverages for Cardinals fans will be in the other part of the bar.

Staff will encourage people to sit where they feel the most comfortable, and will strive to have waiters and waitresses work in the section for which they are cheering.

"We're not going to force you to sit in those rooms but we're going to encourage it that way you get to enjoy the game more with your respective team," Smith said.

But it's a bit of a different tale at Zansabar.

The original Saturday plan was to have this Louisville campus bar only open to Cards fans

Their early Facebook post said, "Louisville fans only for the game on Saturday. We are not doing this to [offend] UK fans. We are doing it to prevent fighting."

Later in the week, staff changed their policy, posting this on their Facebook page: "Our intentions were not to offend or alienate anyone with our previous post. Our only concern is to keep everyone safe during the big game. We apologize for upsetting anyone. We made a mistake. Everyone is welcome during the game, respecting capacity issues of course."

Manager Chip Hartley, speaking on behalf of the owners, says they took it as a safety measure to please their regulars, and never expected things to get so out of hand.

"We're on the Louisville campus. We're in Louisville.  It's going to be a Louisville event," he said.

That apparently left a bad taste in some people's mouth, so the plan changed.

"Next thing you know there's 150 posts and people are angry and it's all over the news everywhere," Hartley said.

Even CNN came calling to this tiny bar, questioning the suddenly huge controversy.

"We weren't trying to rub anyone the wrong way. It just turned out that way," he laughed.

So now everyone's welcome, even those living in the house across the street with the giant UK sign. "Everyone's welcome," Hartley exclaimed.

Both bars said they'll have extra security to make sure everyone keeps the peace.

LMPD has also identified the Downtown Business District, the Baxter/Bardstown corridor, and the Fourth Street Live! areas as places they'll be also beefing up their patrols to keep everyone safe.

Copyright 2012 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.