Cats’ guarantee games top $2 million mark

Finding three opponents willing to come to Commonwealth Stadium and play against Kentucky has become more costly as of late.

The Cats’ three non-conference home games against Tennessee-Martin, Louisiana-Monroe and Ohio University, will cost more than $2 million this season, according to the contracts obtained by the Herald-Leader.

The highest price tag game for Kentucky this season is the $1 million payout to Louisiana Monroe after the Warkhawks take on UK on Oct. 11.

For perspective, it cost UK $1 million combined to play Miami (Ohio) and Alabama State last season in the so-called “guarantee games.”

The Western Kentucky series, part of a four-game contract, was a split-ticket deal last year in Nashville with 42 percent going to the Hilltoppers, 30 percent to UK and 28 percent to the Nashville Sports Council. When WKU came to Commonwealth Stadium the year before, it was a flat $500,000 payout from UK.

Here is the breakdown of the three guarantee games for Kentucky this season:

  • Tennessee-Martin: The Cats’ season opener against the Skyhawks will cost UK $410,000 (increased from the original agreed upon amount of $375,000 before the date of the game moved as a part of the Southeastern Conference’s schedule shakeups). As part of the contract, the visiting team will receive 800 complimentary tickets and 2,000 tickets to sell to its fans. Up to 500 of those tickets can be returned to UK two weeks prior to the game. The Aug. 30 game is a one-game contract signed in May of 2013.
  • Louisiana Monroe: When the Warhawks come to Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 11 as part of a one-game deal signed in March of 2013, they will earn a flat fee of $1 million. Louisiana Monroe will be given 5,000 tickets to sell to fans, with unsold tickets being returned to UK by Sept. 15. They also will receive 300 complimentary tickets beyond the tickets for sale.
  • Ohio University: When the Bobcats come to Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 6, it is part of a one-game deal signed in early 2009 where UK agreed to pay $650,000. Ohio University will receive 3,000 tickets to sell to fans and can return no more than 500 tickets within two weeks of the game. The Bobcats also receive 350 free tickets in the deal.

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
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