[Moderated by Matt Jones]
I may be in the minority of Wildcat fans, but I absolutely love baseball. Specifically, I really can’t think of many things I like to do more than spend a day at the ballpark rooting on my team, donning the rally cap when necessary, and stretching out in vain to catch foul balls (to give to the overly excited children around me, of course).
The problem, though, for the Kentucky baseball program over the years, is that it is trapped in a baseball-crazy conference with fans who often look at the sport as an insufficient consolation for the end of basketball season. While Kentucky does consistently rank in the Top 40 in total attendance, it’s no secret that Cats fans (for the most part) don’t turn out for baseball with the same enthusiasm as, say, LSU or Ole Miss, whose average attendances at the baseball diamond are higher than those at the basketball court.
Yes, attendance has picked up at Cliff Hagan Stadium for the Cats, as Kentucky has proved itself to be among the best teams in the country this season, but the ceiling for UK baseball support is still a lot higher than where it is now. UK has responded by making some exciting changes to The Cliff over the last few seasons, but the question remains: What else can the Bat Cats do to make games more exciting for fans?
With the addition of more seats down the third base line, UK has succeeded in creating a more fan-friendly environment, as this area is especially popular with kids dying to catch foul balls or solicit them from the left-fielder. The Party Deck is truly a unique addition to the park, as it provides some space for fans in Home Run territory and gives Cliff Hagan something that sets it apart from other parks. The addition of the “Cow at the Cliff” provides something fun for younger fans (and I guess I can’t deny that I follow him on Twitter, as well…). In short, things are getting more fan-friendly around the stadium, and the Cliff was already a nice place to play.
It would, however, be nice to see some more traditions spring up soon. The celebration after a home run is a great place to start, as is the celebration after a win. As a cubs fan, it’s hard to imagine baseball without a fun sing-a-long after a home victory or a huge “W” flag being raised in the outfield after a win. If you’re a Reds fan, you love the fireworks in the outfield after a home run. Bottom line is there are tons of possibilities for the Cats as they search for ways to make home more inviting for fans and more intimidating for opponents.
For it’s root, root, root for Kentucky. @AdamSchiltKSR
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