In search of the University of Louisville’s No. 1 fan

Card MazeWho is the No. 1 fan of the University of Louisville? Far be it for me to presume who should be given that distinction. There would be so many extraordinary candidates, each of them fiercely loyal to UofL athletics.

It could even be a group of fans, possibly the Red Rage Tailgate team, headed by James Durst, Josh Stinson and Dave Magee, with their converted bus serving free Bloody Marys, doughnuts, hamburgers, ribs and hot dogs to UofL fans at home and away football games.

How about Ron Thomas who drives the antique fire truck loaded with fans circling the Green Lot with sirens blaring before each home football game.

Or Ken Richardson, of the End Zone Express, who has converted a former EMS vehicle into the ultimate tailgating machine with a state-of-the-art sound system?

Or could it be Sean and Brittany Struck, who convinced the Travel Channel to convert an old vehicle into the showpiece that occupies the Bronze Lot every game?

What about all those anonymous tailgaters who gather with their friends under canopies with incredible feasts from menus that change dramatically from game to game?

What about the Cardinal Bird or one of his many predecessors? A former mascot sits close to us in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and he’s always leading cheers.

Or how about the many benefactors who save their money all year to make their Cardinal Athletic Fund contributions for basketball and football tickets?

I contacted Brad Barber, assistant athletic director for tickets/operations to find out how many season ticket holders the University of Louisville has. He said UofL has a base of 12,500 people who purchase close to 48,000 season football tickets or four seats per customer.

For men’s basketball, 7,500 fans purchase over 20,000 season tickets. Women’s basketball  fans buy 2,000 season tickets that swells to 8,000 to 10,000 fans for each home game. Volleyball with its 500 season ticket holders that expand the fan count to over 1,000 to 1,500 cheering fans. Let us not forget the Soccer season ticket holders of 500 paying fans to round out another 1.000 to 1,500 cheering fans.

Barber says Louisville sells an average of 2,000 football tickets to the average road game (it’s already 4,300 for next season’s game at Clemson). Last season, 5,500 UofL fans traveled to Lexington to see the Cards defeat Kentucky a fifth straight time.

After careful consideration, I have made my choice. The winner is all the fans who get to their seats before the game starts and stay in their seats until the very end. The prize is the pride that comes from knowing you are in great company, blessed to be among the best fans in the country.