Don Franklin Auto Blue Carpet returns for BBM19 presented by Papa John’s

Fans invited to the blue carpet; ‘Before the Madness’ will feature coverage of VIP entrance


LEXINGTON, Ky. – With a new location that will feature a more interactive experience for the Big Blue Nation, the Don Franklin Auto Blue Carpet entrance into Big Blue Madness presented by Papa John’s will return this season and will be featured on the UK Sports Network pre-Big Blue Madness TV special “Before the Madness.”

Before the big show gets started Friday at Big Blue Madness, fans will have the opportunity to see the Kentucky men’s and women’s basketball teams and VIPs arrive at Rupp Arena on the blue carpet from 5:30-7 p.m.

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In a change from previous years, the 2019 blue carpet event will take place on the first level of the Lexington Center shops on the northeast entrance of the Lexington Center. Fans are invited to watch from the first- and second-level balconies.

The teams, along with featured guests, will enter the arena via first level of the Lexington Center and walk the blue carpet for an opportunity to greet fans, interview with media members and stop to have their picture taken.

Select members of the teams and VIPs will also be interviewed and broadcast on the Don Franklin Auto Blue Carpet for fans to hear.

For fans who will be watching from home, the blue carpet entrance will be featured on the Before the Madness special, which will be televised live from 5:30-7 p.m. on select UK Sports Network affiliates.

Before the Madness will feature exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes content from the Kentucky men’s and women’s basketball teams and more. WKYT’s Dave Baker and Christi Thomas will serve as the hosts for the night and will be joined by WKYT’s DeAnn Stephens and UK Athletics Hall of Famer Mike Pratt, who will be on the blue carpet to interview special guests. WKYT’s Lee K. Howard – co-host of BBN TV – will cover the signs and sounds live from inside Rupp Arena.

Before the Madness will air live on all UK Sports Network affiliates. Below are the complete listings of networks throughout the state and surrounding regions:

Market Station (Time)
Ashland Ky./Huntington, W.Va. WQCW (CW)
Bowling Green, Ky. WKBO (ABC)
Evansville, Ind. WFIE (NBC)
Hazard, Ky. WYMT (CBS)
Lexington, Ky. WKYT (CBS)/CW
Louisville, Ky. WHAS (ABC)
Paducah, Ky. WPSD (NBC)
Regional Fox Sports South

For fans unable to make it to Rupp Arena for Big Blue Madness, the annual tipoff to the Kentucky men’s and women’s basketball seasons can be seen live on SEC Network. It will mark the fifth straight season the annual spectacle will air live and in its entirety on a national network.

The two-hour show will also stream live via the WatchESPN app on computers, tables and smartphones. ESPN’s Tom Hart will be on hand to make the call alongside analysts Sean Farnham and Debbie Antonelli.

Big Blue Madness presented by Papa John’s will feature introductions of both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, practice drills, videos and more. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the event will begin at 7 p.m.

Free tickets for Big Blue Madness, which were distributed two weeks ago in-person at Memorial Coliseum and online, sold out in less than an hour.

This will be the 15th time Madness has been held in Rupp Arena.

For the latest on the Kentucky men’s and women’s basketball teams, follow @KentuckyMBB and @KentuckyWBB on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and on the web at

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Bryan Kennedy hails from the Bluegrass State. He was born and raised in Owensboro, KY where he graduated from Apollo High School in 2006. Bryan graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Spanish in 2010. He also received his master's degree in Sports Media and Branding from Western Kentucky University. While at UK, Bryan was the general manager of the on-campus TV station. He also did sports reporting, anchoring, producing and even the weather for UK Student News Network. While working for UKSNN, he also had the pleasure of covering Coach John Calipari's first press conference when he was introduced as the new head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats; easily one of his favorite moments as a young sports reporter. Before coming to ABC 36, Bryan was a morning anchor and reporter at WXXV News 25, our sister station in Gulfport, MS. He anchored more than four hours of news every day, including morning shows on NBC and Fox. While down south, Bryan had the opportunity to cover the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans. After spending a little more than two years at WXXV, Bryan is extremely excited to return home. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys playing sports, especially rugby. He also enjoys crossfitting and watching sports (obviously). He's extremely excited to cover Central Kentucky. Feel free to say hello and send story ideas