Actual attendance figures for UK football

Kentucky’s announced attendance figure of 44,902 for the Vanderbilt game raised some eyebrows at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday. I checked with UK officials about getting the actual scanned attendance figure for the game (each person who enters the venue has a ticket or pass scanned), but they said those numbers were unavailable at the time and had never been requested previously.

So we filed an open-records request to get the actual scanned attendance for games this season and last season. This season’s numbers are below, but Kentucky said it does not have the numbers available for the 2011 season.

I might do a longer piece this week about how attendance is figured at UK and throughout the country (there is no industry standard, apparently), but I wanted to put the numbers out there as promised.

Game Announced Actual*
Kent State 48,346 37,000
Western Kentucky 53,980 43,174
South Carolina 49,810 35,086
Miss State 49,498 29,927
Georgia 54,553 33,420
Vanderbilt 44,902 18,885

* UK’s response includes the mention that these “actual” numbers are of scanned ticket sales through Ticketmaster, but that “these numbers do not include players, media, workers, etc., who were also in attendance during the games and do not use the scanned ticket procedure.”


About Jennifer Smith

Jen Smith has been a sports writer at the Herald-Leader since 2000, covering everything from high school sports to auto racing to various University of Kentucky sports. A native of Louisville and a graduate of the University of Kentucky (much to the dismay of her Louisville graduate mother and Indiana graduate father), Jen now resides in downtown Lexington with her husband and two young sons. You can follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader or send her an email at
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Actual attendance figures for UK football

  1. paul reynolds says:

    Could you please pour a little more salt on the wound ? And you are a UK grad ?
    Yea, we need your journalism.
    Ever think about moving to Philly ?

  2. BDWELLS says:

    Excellent reporting job.

  3. jack says:

    This number also does not include people like myself who use 6 tickets a person. We use the first one, watch some of the game….leave and drink a beer at our tailgate area….go back watch some more…..and repeat the same process over and over.

  4. tafugate says:

    hmmm, no disrespect, jennifer, but don’t you think this is akin to piling on? i mean, anyone looking around in the stands could see there weren’t nearly as many fans as there used to be. what do you hope to accomplish? joker’s gone. tomorrow is a new day.

  5. Dave H says:

    WOW!!! If my handy-dandy calculator can be trusted that mean they had 26,017 ‘players, media, workers, etc.,’ in Commonwealth on Nov. 3rd. Maybe the etc. includes all people who were within a 5-mile radius of Commonwealth. To announce 45K while scanning less than 19K is deceitful at best. If the powers that be at UK wish to continue having 26K ghost-fans in attendance then all they need to do is continue with their current lack of support for our beloved football cats. I would strongly advise they reconsider their approach to funding (i.e. recruiting rooms, coaching hires, etc.) the football team… otherwise, all those ghost-fans might start paying for their tickets with ghost bills…

  6. Robert Pride says:

    Its the season ticket holers that stay home Einstein

  7. Jennifer Smith says:

    I was asking for actual attendance numbers before there was any coaching dismissal. I had so many people calling out that released attendance figure that I wanted to find out for sure.
    The “piling on” factor is part of the reason I released it as a blog and not as a full story. Although I am interested in how attendance is calculated around SEC, country, so I may put together a notebook item about that at some point. Thanks for replying! – jen

  8. Jennifer Smith says:

    As I replied above:
    I was asking for actual attendance numbers before there was any coaching dismissal. I had so many people calling out that released attendance figure that I wanted to find out for sure. The “piling on” factor is part of the reason I released it as a blog and not as a full story. But these numbers also serve a larger purpose in that they show just how much additional revenue was lost when people didn’t attend games and they show why UK had to make a change. – jen

  9. ArmyCat says:

    Jen…I for one appreciate the reporting of this issue and don’t believe it is piling on. I believe transparency is a good thing and hope the university/athletic association start providing more accurate information in the future…regardless of who the coach is.

    Keep up the good work and GO CATS!!

  10. Ineluctable says:

    This isn’t the Obama campaign, we need the real numbers not just the pandering “announced” numbers. When did the truth become optional? Is this the way of America now?

  11. Robert Pride says:

    it was refreshing to see someone report with candor – thanks

  12. Michael Ramage says:

    It is disappointing that the University would announce such inflated attendance numbers. What’s to be gained by deception? It was obvious on TV that the announced numbers did not match the actual fans in the stands. As a UK Alum, I hope the University commits to being more honest in its attendance reporting for future football seasons.

  13. jeff wolfe says:

    There is more than one way to look at this. 1. All events at all colleges have this duality. 2. It is a positive not a negative that people buy season tickets in spite of a programs recent years record. 3. Media have a lot to do with people not showing up, ie media can say a program has a losing record but it is because of a tough schedule, or media can say a program has a poor quality product that wouldn’t be worth going to see no matter who was on their schedule. SEC related media a WWAAAAAYYYYYYY to negative and dismissive and non-supportive of any team that doesn’t finish in the top third of the SEC. 4. If SEC media are correct in being so pathetically negative then who is going to attend Big 12, Pac 12, ACC, Big East, all the way down to Division III and high school programs. Should everyone who is not Alabama be constantly hammered by the media about their programs not being a worthy entertainment product?
    5. The fact that even 10,000 people would give up participating in their own activities for 4 hours of football and put up with television commercial breaks is still amazing. 6. Why doesn’t media address the exploitation of fans by media and advertisers, instead of some critic of how many people are willing to put up with what media has done to college football?? I can go on and on and on and I would like a public response from an intelligent sportswriter on this.

  14. Valeria says:

    So for the Vanderbilt game there were almost two workers for every actual paying person at the game. If you cut out the players from both teams that drops it even more. I never heard of counting players as part of those attending a game. Is that something new?

  15. Tom says:

    Jen, you don’t need to respond to any of the posts here.
    Thank you for taking on the job of reporting on the Kentucky football team this year.
    You did a good job and weren’t a ‘homer’ when it came to saying it like it is.
    Thank you.

  16. ArmyCat says:

    @Valeria…I think they only counted the UK players as watching the game…the Vandy players were running around too much to be counted as spectators.

  17. scorpiocard says:

    Please include how U of L counts attendance in your “longer piece”.

    uk is sooooooooo LAME.

  18. Bryon says:

    Not a bad ratio per win.

  19. arlis says:

    Thank you for showing, quantitatively, the facts. It was obvious that the numbers were being presented in a manner that was misleading and had people, like myself, questioning the “inflated” numbers. Your investigation had shown that the attendance provided to the press are not the true representation of those who have purchased tickets and have their butts in their seat. This is the only number that matters with regards to attendance. Fans attend games to support the “…players…” and the university. Others–“…media, workers, etc…”–are working and providing a service. It’s a shame that the “attendance” reported by the media is actually misleading. So when the media report the number of students at UK should we look for the “*” to see that “student” actually includes professors, groundskeepers, maintenance, etc. because they were all students in elementary school at one point.

  20. catfan says:

    I really don’t see the point of the story! Unless you are blind, you could tell that attendance was down. Even Joker said he noticed and knew this was the last straw. The story about the number of persons attending was a waste. Be positive and informing not boring and pointless!

  21. David Gosney says:

    I was at the game and suffered through the first half sprinkles and football mishaps…..I’m glad someone finally got the REAL numbers!

  22. Cary says:

    Interesting that the numbers of “players, media, workers, etc.” went from ~11,000 for the first home game to 26,000 in the last home game! Since the team is so bad, I doubt the increase was due to more media showing up to report on their play, and since they have smaller crowds surely they could not have needed more workers in concessions, security, and parking. With those two categories eliminated, it must follow that UK increased the number of players and still could not win?!?! LOL In all seriousness, I would be very interested in hearing what you find regarding how attendance is calculated elsewhere. There must be some monetary incentive for UK (and I am sure others) to pad these figures.

  23. Hoke Joseph says:

    Maybe they were counting them on the way in, AND counting them on the way out.

  24. Jennifer, I appreciate your approach to this issue. The attendance dropoff is both massive and real.

    You did not rub any salt in any wounds that would deserve some journalistic “excessive celebration” penalty. Anyone touchy enough to be offended by this benign piece would be tough to reason with.

  25. Dan Cecil says:

    Thanks for getting this info and reporting it, Jen. It was annoying to see the obviously inflated attendance figures in the official releases from the university during the year. It is interesting to me that the highest actual attendance of the season so far (against WKU) is smaller than the lowest announced attendance (against Vandy).

    I imagine most universities do inflate their attendance numbers for most sports. I’ve wondered about this when so many UK basketball games are listed as sellouts, but the announced attendance varies. I guess they are counting tickets sold plus media, workers, etc?

  26. David says:

    Good job on the article. I attended all the home games and knew that somebody was cooking the books trying to make it look as if it was not as bad as it actually was.
    I can not help to feel bad for the concessions I am sure they have taken a beating this year even with their over priced cokes and pretzel’s.