VAUGHT: Time to dump Freedom Hall game?

So much for the great fan base that Kentucky has in Louisville. What else can one think after seeing over 5,000 empty seats Friday when the Wildcats played Iona?

I know all the reasons why people weren't there. Tickets cost too much. The game was too close to Christmas. Tubby Smith's team doesn't score enough points.

But what about all the cries for a chance for the average fan to buy a ticket to see the Wildcats play? Seldom does a day go by that I don't have someone ask about the possibility of getting a ticket to see UK play. Yet here was a game against a good team — even if it was not a big name — and over 5,000 seats went unsold.

It's no wonder Tubby Smith is resurrecting talk about hosting the UKIT again. That way Kentucky could invite teams it wanted, schedule the games when it suits Smith and play in Lexington at the holiday break instead of going to Louisville for a Dec. 23 game as it did this year or New Year's Eve as it did in 2003.

By not including UKIT games in the season ticket package, the Cats would have plenty of tickets for fans who cannot get tickets to other games and want to see a game in Rupp Arena.

For years Kentucky has played a home game in Louisville. But why keep doing that? If fans are not going to fill the arena, why give up a game in Rupp Arena to appease Jefferson County fans that don't fill Freedom Hall. Those who did come could just as easily buy UKIT tickets and still get to see the Cats play.

Kentucky fans are among the best, if not the best, in the country. However, it's time UK seriously looks at whether continuing to make a trip to Freedom Hall really makes sense because after staring at 5,000 empty seats Friday, one really has to wonder why the Cats should drive 70 miles to see that.

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