Gameday safety press conference

Assistant Provost for Student Well-Being Andrew Smith speaks at the press conference announcing UK's initiative for safer transportation ahead of the Kentucky football game against Georgia. The press conference was held at the Cats Den in the Gatton Student Center on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in Lexington, Kentucky. 

The Wildcats may be a football school right now, but safety will remain the UK administration’s number one priority on gamedays.

On Friday, UK officials and the Kentucky Distillers' Association announced a new initiative for gameday drinking policies and safety regarding this Saturday’s football game against the University of Georgia.

According to a UK press release, various organizations will be providing over $20,000 in safe ride discounts and other alcohol responsibility programming.

These organizations include UK, Keeneland, UK HealthCare, Visit Lex and Kentucky Distillers at Makers Mark and Brown-Forman. They have raised more than $10,000 this week for the initiative. Lyft has contributed over $10,000 as well.

“It’s such a historic game that we want to make sure fans actually remember it and savor it and have a great time,” Kentucky Distillers' Association’s Eric Gregory said. “So this week, we called around to the community and our partners to raise money to help us create a safe ride home option for people who choose to celebrate responsibly either at the game, at a friend’s house, their favorite restaurant or watering hole.”

This “safe ride home option” is for Wildcat fans who will need a ride to or from the game. On Saturday, students and fans can enter the code “CATURDAY” into the Lyft app and receive $20 off their ride. This applies to Georgia fans as well who wish to receive a safe ride to or from Kroger Field.

“One thing I think we can all agree on is that we are all fans of the responsible and moderate consumption of alcohol,” Gregory said. “So anyone who wants to use this code in the Lexington area on Saturday can do so.”

This will last between Saturday at noon until 2 a.m. Lyft drivers will be going through campus to downtown Lexington. The pickup and drop-off location for Lyft rides will be on Complex Drive in front of the Seaton Center.

“This is a program for those who choose to drink alcohol to arrive to the game safely and home safely,” UK Police Chief Joe Monroe said. “[We are] making our entire gameday environment and effort a safer one for everybody.”

This Saturday, there will also be a tailgating tent put up by Better Drinking Culture to promote their program and educate students and fans about their efforts.

“Part of this is to engage the community, engage the students by inviting them into the conversation about what a healthier relationship with alcohol looks like,” CEO of BDC Jason Ley said. “We believe that by drinking better and living healthier we are going to translate that into better health, better relationships and better communities.”

The Gameday Zone is an initiative set in place earlier this fall. This zone allows for students to gather at Pieratt Field and tailgate in a gated environment. Alcohol is sold in the zone to those with a valid ID.

After 4-year-old Marco Shemwell was tragically hit by a car and killed while leaving a UK football game, the university has put in various policies to help ensure safety of students and fans while tailgating.

“I have been at the University of Kentucky for 12 years,” Assistant Provost for Student Well-Being Andrew Smith said. “I am more than pleased to see the amount of improvements and progress that we have made when it comes to education and holistic well-being, especially when it revolves around substance abuse and alcohol misuse.”

This initiative for safe rides is set in place for this Saturday’s game, while more initiatives may be put into place for future games after an evaluation of this Saturday by the UK administration and the UKPD.

“The biggest thing is we want all our football fans to have a safe, fun and enjoyable experience at this historic game this weekend at Kroger Field,” Monroe said. “And celebrate, most importantly, responsibly.”