LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Every year since 1958, the Kentucky home game at Freedom Hall has been the place where University of Kentucky fans, who live outside of Lexington, could see their Wildcats up close and personal.
For many fans, it is also the one game they could get tickets to. But Tuesday, UK released its new basketball schedule without the historic game.
"It would be hard to find a ticket to get into the game at Rupp Arena," Dan Clark said. Clark is one of the thousands of UK fans who enjoyed seeing the Cats play closer to his Louisville home.
"It was something that you'd look forward to and you would anticipate," said Clark. "You get all your group together and then watch Kentucky always win. They would always win those games!"
It was not long ago when Coach Calipari made a similar statement to reporters about the game at Freedom Hall. "This is an opportunity for people, who don't have season tickets and if your not a season ticket holder, you say, here's a game, let's go."
That is why many fans are wondering why the annual game did not make the schedule.
"Well, we were surprised and disappointed," said Kevin Connell, the UK Alumni President for Greater Louisville. Connell said the change had nothing to do with Freedom Hall being an old building as some have suggested. "I'm one of the fans that thinks it has one of the best sight lines of any arena in the country and I think it's a great place to watch a game."
Connell said officials at the venue went above and beyond for Kentucky fans by painting the floor UK blue.
"It looks like Coach Calipari is trying to reinvent Kentucky Basketball," said longtime sports writer and sports historian Billy Reed. "Not playing in Freedom Hall along with the cancellation of the Indiana series, that's taking a lot of history and tradition and just putting it in the dumper.'
Reed believed the move is about a couple of things, like money. Reed said domes and bigger venues simply sell more seats. He remembered, at one time, Freedom Hall sold more seats than the old Memorial Coliseum.
The other thing? He said the not so stellar attendance has to do with who the Cats are scheduling. "Kentucky started scheduling a game that was against a bottom feeder type of opponent," Reed said, "and that made it a lot less attractive for people to come to."
Connell and Clark hope it is a scheduling issue too, but for this year only. "I think with the addition of two SEC games, that made the challenge even harder to get here," said Connell.
"I'm hoping it will just be this one time," Clark said of the change.
DeWayne Peevy, the UK Executive Associate AD said, "We attempted to play Indiana originally in Louisville, but never went any further with either venue (Freedom Hall or KFC YUM! Center) because Indiana didn't want to move the series to neutral sites. Outside of that, there were no plans this season to play in Louisville other than the Louisville game this season due to the increase in conference games."
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